WestJet Cargo and SmartKargo partner on innovative digital transformation to better serve customers

CALGARY, AB, Dec. 7, 2021 /CNW/ – WestJet Cargo and SmartKargo today announced a partnership that will provide extensive digital solutions to enhance and transform the airline’s air cargo business. In 2022, SmartKargo, a comprehensive cargo information management solution, will implement innovative software that will provide a streamlined user experience for WestJet Cargo customers.

“As we witness record-setting cargo volumes, we are making strategic investments in our technology, our aircraft and our people,” said Charles Duncan, WestJet Executive Vice-President, Cargo. “Our partnership with SmartKargo signifies an integral step forward in the digital transformation of our business. We look forward to working in lockstep with SmartKargo to digitize our business and deliver an improved user experience to our valued customers.”

Together with SmartKargo, WestJet Cargo customers will realize an enhanced experience through paperless shipment documentation, ease of booking, and the ability to track their shipments in real-time as well as access important information and updates through a mobile and browser-friendly cloud platform.

“On behalf of the SmartKargo team, we are very excited to add WestJet to our list of valued airline clients, who have placed their trust in us to transform their cargo business,” said Milind Tavshikar, Chief Executive Officer, QuantumID Technologies, SmartKargo. “We look forward to supporting their growth and enabling new opportunities in the marketplace as they arise.”

In the coming months, the two businesses will work expediently, to integrate and implement SmartKargo’s digital solutions with WestJet Cargo’s existing systems and supply chain providers.

As WestJet Cargo continues to grow, so too will its team, network and flight plans. To learn more about how WestJet Cargo can fulfill shipping needs, or to discover incredible employment opportunities, visit WestJet Cargo

About WestJet 

In 25 years of serving Canadians, WestJet has cut airfares in half and increased the flying population in Canada to more than 50 per cent. WestJet launched in 1996 with three aircraft, 250 employees and five destinations, growing over the years to more than 180 aircraft, 14,000 employees and more than 100 destinations in 23 countries, pre-pandemic.

Since the start of the pandemic the WestJet Group of Companies has built a layered framework of safety measures to ensure Canadians can continue to travel safely and responsibly through the airline’s Safety Above All hygiene program. During this time, WestJet has maintained its status as one of the top-10 on-time airlines in North America as named by Cirium.

For more information about everything WestJet, please visit westjet.com

Statement – Minister Alghabra marks International Civil Aviation Day

Transport Canada

OTTAWA, ON, Dec. 7, 2021 /CNW Telbec/ – The Honourable Omar Alghabra, Minister of Transport, issued this statement today to mark International Civil Aviation Day:

“Every year, on December 7, we take time to recognize the special role that international civil aviation plays in bringing us together. This year, we also want to recognize and celebrate the incredible work of the many international civil aviation professionals who responded to the pandemic and helped to keep Canadians and travellers safe.

“We’ve seen amazing efforts from the aviation industry to repatriate citizens displaced by the pandemic; maintain essential supply chains to equip countries and health professionals with critical PPE and lifesaving medication; act as the predominate supply chain to deliver vaccines to countries around the world; maintain essential business travel and re-unification of families and, implement strong virus mitigation measures, often acting at the leading edge of public health, testing and vaccination requirements.

“We are proud of our longstanding role as host country of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) in Montreal. ICAO’s leadership, along with member states and the international civil aviation industry, have worked diligently on the recovery of the industry. From the dedicated work of the Council Aviation Recovery Task Force to the High-level Conference on COVID-19 in October 2021, Canada looks forward to continuing this important collaboration with ICAO to ensure a stable and lasting global recovery.

“Since 1947, Canada has been working closely with ICAO and its international aviation partners to advance civil aviation priorities in Canada and around the world. The Canada-led Safer Skies Initiative is a prime example of this productive collaboration with partners. We’re working together to improve the safety and security of air travel worldwide by addressing gaps in the way the civil aviation sector deals with conflict zones, to ensure that tragedies like the shooting down of Ukraine International Airlines Flight PS752 never happen again.

“Reducing pollution from the transportation sector, including from domestic and international aviation, is also a priority. Canada has been working with other member states and partners to advance a new long-term goal for greenhouse gas reductions in international aviation, in line with its climate change objective, along with the continued support and participation in the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA).

“As we prepare to welcome the 41st Session of the ICAO Assembly in 2022, we look forward to another productive year of advancing our shared priorities for global civil aviation safety, security, efficiency, capacity and environmental protection.”

Transport Canada is online at www.tc.gc.ca. Subscribe to e-news or stay connected through RSSTwitterFacebookYouTube and Flickr to keep up to date on the latest from Transport Canada.

Chrono Aviation Offers First Boeing 737-800 SF Service in Canada with New Operations in Western Provinces

QUEBEC CITY, Dec. 7, 2021 /CNW Telbec/ – In April, Chrono Aviation announced the addition of a Boeing 737-800. It has now been revealed what this aircraft will be used for, as the Quebec company will be the very first in Canada to offer the 737-800 SF. With this new addition, Chrono Aviation now has an aircraft exclusively dedicated to cargo, with service starting in January 2022. This also marks Chrono Aviation’s first presence in Western Canada, with the new aircraft to be based in Winnipeg.

More Cargo, Further, Faster and Greener

Chrono Aviation’s 737-800 SF, exclusively dedicated to cargo, will be based in Winnipeg starting from January 2022 (CNW Group/Chrono Aviation)
Chrono Aviation’s 737-800 SF, exclusively dedicated to cargo, will be based in Winnipeg starting from January 2022 (CNW Group/Chrono Aviation)

The range of the new cargo aircraft is 2,000 nautical miles and can transport up to 52,000 pounds of cargo. Not only can the Boeing 737-800 SF carry more cargo further and faster, it is also more environmentally friendly, with 20% less emissions per tonne of cargo carried compared to previous generations of Boeing cargo aircraft.

“With this next-generation aircraft, we will be able to respond to a whole new market that is experiencing phenomenal growth. We are making our entrance into the international air cargo industry with the acquisition of this new Boeing cargo aircraft. It is with the continued objective for innovating and conquering new markets that Chrono Aviation, one of Quebec’s largest air carriers, is once again setting itself apart by becoming the first in Canada to introduce a Boeing 737-800 SF,” noted Vincent Gagnon, President of the Chrono Aviation Group.

He also added: “With this aircraft, we will be able to transport any cargo to about any destination, both in Canada and around the world. Adding the 800 SF was part of our growth strategy, but increased demand in the international market and from some of our current customers has advanced our long-term expectations.”

A First Presence in Western Canada and the Creation of 20 New Jobs

The addition of this aircraft also means establishing Chrono Aviation in Western Canada for strategic reasons and to meet strong demand in the area. The aircraft, which will be based in Winnipeg, marks another milestone in the company’s history. Along with the new aircraft, the company will be creating 20 new jobs.

About the Chrono Group

The Chrono Group has a fleet of 15 aircraft, including 4 Boeing. Based at the Quebec City and Saint-Hubert airports, where the company also operates LUX, Montreal’s largest FBO, Chrono employs 280 people. Founded in 2012, it is the Quebec company with the most diversified fleet and one of the largest charter companies in the province.

Frontier Airlines Signs Agreement with FLYHT

Calgary, Alberta and Denver, Colorado – December 7, 2021 – FLYHT Aerospace Solutions Ltd. (TSX-V: FLY) (OTCQX: FLYLF) (the “Company” or “FLYHT”) today announced an agreement with Frontier Airlines (NASDAQ: ULCC) (“Frontier”) to equip Frontier’s near-term deliveries of A320 and A321 aircraft with FLYHT’s AFIRS solution, enabling Frontier to optimize its over water routes. By gaining access to real-time fleet information through FLYHT’s solutions, Frontier aims to improve operational efficiencies in both flight and ground operations, including reducing flying time and the associated fuel burn, while enhancing customer satisfaction.

Ben Dwyer, Director Flight Ops Standards & QA at Frontier, stated, “Frontier’s partnership with FLYHT is another key step in our effort to reduce our carbon footprint by decreasing fuel consumption and further our position as America’s Greenest Airline. The real-time aircraft data that comes from FLYHT’s AFIRS family of products will also enhance communications with our flight crews as well as the customer experience by reducing flying time. We selected FLYHT after an extensive search of all available solutions in the marketplace.”

Derek Taylor, VP Sales and Marketing of FLYHT, added, “The addition of Frontier, a well-regarded airline, to our family of customers expands our client roster to more than 85 airlines globally. The operations at Frontier are an area in which we have a lot of experience, and the entrepreneurial nature of Frontier fits well with FLYHT’s agile problem-solving culture for both airborne hardware and day of operations intelligence systems. We look forward to expanding our service offerings with Frontier and are thrilled to have a customer in the hometown of our U.S. office in Littleton, Colorado. Our team there will be working closely with the great people at Frontier in making the most of all of our solutions.”
This initial order is valued at USD $680,000.

About FLYHT Aerospace Solutions Ltd.

FLYHT provides airlines with Actionable Intelligence to transform operational insight into immediate, quantifiable action, delivering industry leading solutions to improve aviation safety, efficiency and profitability. This unique capability is driven by FLYHT’s patented aircraft certified hardware products including AFIRS™, a satcom aircraft interface device which enables real-time streaming of flight information, cockpit voice and black box data streaming, AFIRS Edge, a state-of-the-art 5G WQAR and satellite data communications device, and TAMDAR™ and the FLYHT-WVSS-II™, which deliver airborne weather and humidity data in real-time. FLYHT is headquartered in Calgary, Canada with an office in Littleton, Colorado and is an AS9100 Quality registered company. For more information view our latest presentation here, or visit flyht.com.

About Frontier Airlines

Headquartered in Denver, Colorado, Frontier operates more than 100 A320 family aircraft and has the largest A320neo fleet in the U.S. serving approximately 120 destinations in the U.S., Caribbean, Mexico and Central America.

Canadians can give the coveted gift of travel this holiday season with the launch of Sunwing Gift Cards

New survey reveals that 80% of Canadians are keen to receive a gift card this holiday season and 59% are interested in a gift card that can be used towards an all inclusive vacation

TORONTO, Dec. 06, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Sunwing is helping shoppers check everyone off their holiday list this year with the launch of their new Sunwing Gift Cards. Available now, the digital gift cards can be purchased online at sunwing.ca with amounts ranging from $50 to $2,500, and can be easily redeemed online, with customers’ travel agents or through the Sunwing Sales Centre. Gift cards can be used towards the purchase of any Sunwing product including vacation packages, flights, room upgrades, excursions, private transfers and more.

The launch of Sunwing Gift Cards comes right in time for the holidays, as a new survey commissioned by the tour operator has revealed that 71% of Canadians are interested in receiving the gift of an experience this holiday season, while four-fifths (80%) of Canadians are interested in receiving a gift card, and 59% of respondents are receptive to a gift card that can be used towards an all inclusive vacation. The survey was conducted by Sunwing among members of the Angus Reid Forum between November 30 – December 1, 2021, with a nationally representative sample of 1,511 Canadians, in both English and French.

“Sunwing Gift Cards are the perfect present for everyone on your gift list this year,” commented Samantha Taylor, Chief Marketing Officer at Sunwing Travel Group. “More Canadians are dreaming of a tropical getaway, and our newly launched gift cards are an excellent option since they can be used towards a vacation from start to finish, including flights, hotels and excursions. Our research shows that an overwhelming percentage of Canadians are eager to receive a gift card this festive season, with nearly three-fifths keen to receive a gift card for an all inclusive vacation. Plus, Sunwing Gift Cards don’t expire so they can be redeemed whenever customers are ready and able to travel.”

Additional survey insights include:

  • 76% of Canadians with a household income of $100,000 or more are interested in receiving the gift of an experience, followed by those earning between $50,000 and $100,000 (70%) and those earning under $50,000 (66%), respectively
  • Adults aged 18-34 are most eager to receive a gift card, with 83% of respondents in this age group saying they would be interested in a gift card this holiday season, followed closely by 81% of respondents aged 35-54 and 77% of Canadians 55 years of age and older
  • Quebec tops the list of provinces with the highest percentage of respondents who are very interested in receiving a gift card for the holidays at 50%, followed by Manitoba at 46%

Gift card recipients can choose from a range of vacation packages for every travel style, whether they’re planning a family vacation, a getaway with friends or a romantic, adults only retreat. Plus, customers can book with confidence knowing they have the ability to change their plans anytime with no fees* and complimentary COVID-19 medical coverage included on most all inclusive packages booked between September 27, 2021 and January 17, 2022 for travel between November 1, 2021 and April 30, 2022.

*Customers can change their travel dates, destination or resort up to seven days prior to departure. Terms & Conditions apply.

About Sunwing
The largest integrated travel company in North America, Sunwing has more flights to the south than any other leisure carrier with convenient direct service from airports across Canada to popular sun destinations across the U.S.A., Caribbean, Mexico and Central America. This scale enables Sunwing to offer customers exclusive deals at top-rated resorts in the most popular vacation destinations as well as cruise packages and seasonal domestic flight service. Sunwing customers benefit from the assistance of the company’s own knowledgeable destination representatives, who greet them upon arrival and support them throughout their vacation journey. The company supports the communities where it operates through the Sunwing Foundation, a charitable initiative focused on the support and development of youth and humanitarian aid.

WestJet makes travel wishes come true

Canadians surprised with meaningful and emotional reunions through WestJet Christmas Miracle

WestJet Christmas Miracle: A Wish Come True is the airline’s 10th holiday video. (CNW Group/WESTJET, an Alberta Partnership)
WestJet Christmas Miracle: A Wish Come True is the airline’s 10th holiday video. (CNW Group/WESTJET, an Alberta Partnership)

CALGARY, AB, Dec. 6, 2021 /CNW/ – WestJet today released the airline’s 10th holiday video, WestJet Christmas Miracle: A Wish Come True. This year’s theme focuses on the emotional and sentimental moments that guests missed celebrating last year due to the pandemic.

The spot features surprises ranging from round-trip tickets and all-inclusive vacation packages to a global reunion between mother and daughter. (CNW Group/WESTJET, an Alberta Partnership)
The spot features surprises ranging from round-trip tickets and all-inclusive vacation packages to a global reunion between mother and daughter. (CNW Group/WESTJET, an Alberta Partnership)
WestJet Christmas Miracle: A Wish Come True focuses on the emotional and sentimental moments that guests missed celebrating last year due to the pandemic. (CNW Group/WESTJET, an Alberta Partnership)
WestJet Christmas Miracle: A Wish Come True focuses on the emotional and sentimental moments that guests missed celebrating last year due to the pandemic. (CNW Group/WESTJET, an Alberta Partnership)

“The pandemic impacted everyone’s ability to connect with families and friends for far too long and we’ve truly missed celebrating those moments with our guests,” said Richard Bartrem, WestJet Vice-President, Brand, Communications and Community Investment. “Hearing Canadians’ wishes, we knew we could do something meaningful given how important travel is to Canadians from coast-to-coast.”

Over the course of two weeks, undercover and operating as a documentary film crew, WestJet interviewed Canadians in Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver asking them how the pandemic impacted their Christmas traditions and what they wished for the most this holiday season.  

The spot features surprises ranging from round-trip tickets and all-inclusive vacation packages to a global reunion between mother and daughter.

“Unsuspecting Canadians authentically divulged so many relatable missed moments from flights home for the holidays, to family reunions and planned vacations that were postponed,” continued Bartrem. “We truly hope this year’s Christmas Miracle brings joy and the personal connection we’ve all been wishing for the most. As the skies open once again, we look forward to doing what we’ve been doing so well for 25 years – connecting our guests with their loved ones.”

Additional Christmas Miracle content including a WestJet’s Christmas Miracle surprise for the airline’s WestJet Cares for Kids partner, Make A Wish, will be available in the coming days.

About WestJet 

In 25 years of serving Canadians, WestJet has cut airfares in half and increased the flying population in Canada to more than 50 per cent. WestJet launched in 1996 with three aircraft, 250 employees and five destinations, growing over the years to more than 180 aircraft, 14,000 employees and more than 100 destinations in 23 countries, pre-pandemic.

Since the start of the pandemic the WestJet Group of Companies has built a layered framework of safety measures to ensure Canadians can continue to travel safely and responsibly through the airline’s Safety Above All hygiene program. During this time, WestJet has maintained its status as one of the top-10 on-time airlines in North America as named by Cirium.

Air Canada’s Latest Options Offer Customers Safe and Seamless Holiday Travel to the U.S., Making it Easy to Comply with Updated Government Requirements

  • Switch Health Rapid Antigen Test Kits can be delivered in Canada and taken from the comfort of your home or accommodation, one day prior to departure, test results in 15 minutes
  • Revamped Air Canada Travel Ready Hub provides travellers with easy-to-understand COVID-19 travel requirements and answers to FAQ’
  • Full vaccination required for air travel with proof of vaccination integrated into Air Canada app check-in experience

MONTREAL, Dec. 6, 2021 /CNW Telbec/ – Air Canada announces a series of improvements for customers to meet new U.S. government entry requirements. In partnership with Switch Health, a Canadian-based health care company, Air Canada confirms ample supply of antigen test kits available for purchase. The self-administered antigen test will allow customers to conveniently meet new U.S. government entry requirements that travellers present a negative COVID-19 test taken not more than one day prior to departure. The test result takes about 15 minutes to complete.

The self-administered test can be taken from the comfort of the customer’s home or accommodation, within one day prior to departure. The test is conducted under the remote supervision of a telehealth professional from Switch Health and includes an electronic report suitable for travel. Customers can order the Switch Health Rapid Antigen Test Kit (which includes two tests) at switchhealth.ca/aeroplan or redeem at aircanada.com/estore.

“With government restrictions evolving around the world, we want to simplify the experience and provide customers with easy and effective testing solutions,” said Mark Nasr, Senior Vice President, Products Marketing & eCommerce at Air Canada. “We’re also sending new, customized e-mails within five days of departure, detailing the travel, entry and testing requirements specific to any itinerary, for travel everywhere throughout the globe.”

For a seamless check-in experience, the Air Canada app and aircanada.com have been upgraded to recognize the Switch Health QR code and proof of vaccination status, enabling customers to securely submit their test results and proof of vaccination in advance of travel. This meets the Government of Canada requirement that all air travellers be fully vaccinated and offers customers another contactless experience.

Supported by a continually improving Travel Ready Hub, customers can easily and conveniently obtain such information as necessary travel documentation, COVID-19 test requirements and country travel restrictions for any global destination.

About Air Canada
Air Canada is Canada’s largest domestic and international airline and, in 2019, was among the top 20 largest airlines in the world. It is Canada’s flag carrier and a founding member of Star Alliance, the world’s most comprehensive air transportation network. Air Canada is the only international network carrier in North America to receive a Four-Star ranking according to independent U.K. research firm Skytrax. In 2020, Air Canada was named Global Traveler’s Best Airline in North America for the second straight year. In January 2021, Air Canada received APEX’s Diamond Status Certification for the Air Canada CleanCare+ biosafety program for managing COVID-19, the only airline in Canada to attain the highest APEX ranking. Air Canada has also committed to a net zero emissions goal from all global operations by 2050. 

Flair Airlines is expanding rapidly, but internal discord and regulatory scrutiny raise questions about its ambitious growth

From The Globe and Mail – link to source story

ERIC ATKINS, TRANSPORTATION REPORTER, THE GLOBE AND MAIL | 4 DECEMBER 2021

Flair has announced plans to lease and fly 13 Boeing 737 Max passenger jets.HO/THE CANADIAN PRESS

30 COMMENTSSHAREBOOKMARKLISTEN TO ARTICLE

It’s early 2021, and almost a year into the pandemic the skies around Canada’s airports are mostly quiet. Porter and Sunwing are grounded, Air Canada, WestJet Airlines and Air Transat are operating a small number of daily flights, cancelling orders for new planes and losing millions of dollars every day as air travel in much of the world is halted.

It’s a different picture at Flair Airlines, the tiny discount carrier based in Edmonton. On Jan. 27, Flair announced plans to lease and fly 13 Boeing 737 Max passenger jets. The bigger fleet would fly new routes to eight Canadian cities – 18 by the summer. “With this order, Flair is well on the way to achieving its ‘F50′ ambition of growing to 50 planes within five years,” said Flair, which at the time had just three 737s, two of which were essentially grounded by the pandemic.

The new planes would be leased from 777 Partners, the Miami-based private equity company that owns 25 per cent of Flair and is a major creditor to the airline, which bills itself as a low-cost alternative to its large rivals.

It was a bold move, coming as the global airline industry was in crisis and largely grounded. Canadian airlines were seeking billions in aid from Ottawa to cover rent and other costs as thousands of aviation workers were at home or working on wages topped up by government subsidies. Flair unveiled another step in its expansion last month, with the planned addition of Mexico and other vacation destinations, and added Hollywood Burbank to its growing list of U.S. destinations.

But as Flair plotted its rapid expansion, one finance official warned the airline’s top executive that the plan was too risky.

Jocelyn Harris, Flair’s vice-president of finance until the end of 2020, said she advised chief executive officer Stephen Jones that the airline could not afford the expansion, given that it was almost completely shut down and could not pay its bills.

“I couldn’t comprehend it,” Ms. Harris said of the plan to lease planes from 777 Partners. “In the fall we were completely insolvent, and they were going to go and sign on these contracts for these planes.”

Ms. Harris, who has filed a wrongful dismissal and harassment lawsuit against Flair, alleged in a court filing and interview that 777 Partners was calling the shots at Flair. She said she warned executives that the control exerted by the U.S.-based company was a possible violation of Canadian laws. A foreign investor cannot hold more than 25 per cent of a Canadian airline’s shares, nor is it allowed to take charge of company decision-making, known by the regulator as “control in fact.”

Ms. Harris’s allegations come amid a tumultuous time for the airline industry, which is facing new travel restrictions due to the Omicron variant. Flair is also facing a lawsuit from its largest Canadian investor, Prescott Strategic Investments, which is partly owned by Jim Scott, Flair’s former CEO.

The Globe and Mail has learned that the Canadian Transportation Agency, the airline industry regulator, is investigating Flair’s financial arrangement with 777 Partners, which was founded in 2015 by Steven Pasko and Joshua Craig Wander.

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“Flair is required to comply with the Canada Transportation Act’s Canadian ownership and control requirement to hold its licences,” the CTA said in a statement to The Globe. “In assessing the control in fact requirement, the CTA considers a number of factors, including any implications that may arise from the leasing of assets from non-Canadians. There is, however, no specific restriction precluding the leasing of assets from non-Canadians.

“CTA staff are aware of the arrangement between Flair and its U.S. investor, and is currently looking into the situation,” said the regulator, a quasi-judicial body that has the power to levy fines, sanctions or suspend operating licences.

The CTA said the Flair investigation has not yet been referred to a panel.

Mr. Jones, Flair’s CEO, said in a statement that his airline is “58-per-cent owned and controlled by Canadians, well above the minimum standard established under federal regulation.”

Flair lawyer Mike Wagner declined to comment on the lawsuit filed by Prescott, citing a publication ban and sealing order on the file sought by Flair.

Justice Ward Branch of the B.C. Supreme Court on July 12 issued a publication ban on the lawsuit and sealed the file. In an e-mail, Mr. Wagner said the publication ban prevented him from saying why he sought the publication ban. Mr. Scott and Prescott lawyer Steve Warnett declined to comment. Prescott also named 777 Partners in the suit. The investor declined to comment.

Ms. Harris, who left the airline on Dec. 31, 2020, alleges she was fired in retaliation for her complaint about harassment by Juan Arciniegas, a 777 Partners executive who was working at the Edmonton office. She also alleges she was let go for “raising concerns with respect to the increasing control of 777 Partners, contrary to the Canada Transportation Act,” according to her statement of claim, which has not been proven in court.

“Flair is vigorously opposing these unsubstantiated allegations through all proper legal channels,” Mr. Jones said.

Michael Robinson, a spokesman for 777 Partners, said Ms. Harris’s claims of “verbal harassment and bullying” are “without merit and will be vigorously defended should an attempt be made to involve the company.”

Mr. Robinson said the CTA inquiry is a routine part of the regulator’s “routine ownership stake review,” adding that “777 Partners has, and will continue to, assist Flair in any dialogue the CTA wishes to have with the airline.”

In 2019, 777 Partners bought a 25-per-cent stake in Flair for an undisclosed amount. Flair, in a statement announcing the investment, said 777 Partners’ “financial strength” would help it grow and compete with Canada’s two dominant airlines.

The private equity investor does not disclose financial data. It made headlines in the sporting world in September with the purchase of Italy’s oldest professional soccer team, Genoa Cricket and Football Club, for a reported US$175-million. Its other investments include Synchrono Group Inc., a North Carolina-based insurance underwriter. Its aviation stakes include Air Black Box, a technology platform that allows a handful of Asian airlines to cross-sell seats; World Ticket seat-sales software; and Bonza Aviation, an Australian low-cost airline slated to launch in 2022 with two or three Boeing 737s. The investor has also bought the rights to use the name World Airways Inc., the U.S. carrier that stopped flying in 2014.

“Our senior management team is composed of industry veterans with backgrounds in private equity, venture capital, investment banking, financial technology, insurance, actuarial science, asset management, structured-credit, risk analytics, complex commercial litigation and computer science,” the company’s website says. “We partner directly with our management teams and portfolio companies to build long term value for all stakeholders.”

In 2004, 777 Partners co-founder Mr. Wander was convicted of cocaine trafficking in a Florida court, pleading no contest to the charges. He received 16 years’ probation, according to Florida court records. According to a news report on his trafficking case, the then-22-year-old admitted that a package containing 31 grams of cocaine was for him and a friend. He reportedly avoided a jail term of as long as 26 years with his plea.

Flair and 777 Partners representatives did not address questions about Mr. Wander’s criminal record nor grant an interview with him.

“The company will not comment on any legacy issues regarding Mr. Wander’s distant past,” Mr. Robinson said.

Jamina Kotak, Flair’s chief of staff, said in an e-mail that the airline is “pleased to be associated with Mr. Wander and 777 Partners. We could not imagine a more supportive director, shareholder and lender.”

The 737s that 777 Partners will lease to Flair are among the 24 aircraft the private equity company is buying from Boeing. The deal includes an option to buy another 60 of the aircraft. Flair this month is flying nine 737 Max aircraft, five of which are leased from 777 Partners and four from an unrelated company, Ms. Kotak said.

Ms. Harris said Flair owed about $129-million to 777 Partners at the end of 2020. The loan came with 18-per-cent interest. The airline’s executives and Mr. Wander held talks with government lenders Export Development Canada and the Business Development Bank of Canada for emergency financing but were turned down, Ms. Harris said.

Flair declined to answer questions about its financial picture. “As a private company, Flair generally does not publicly disclose or discuss its confidential financial information, which includes among other things debt, financing, lending and aircraft leasing details,” Ms. Kotak said. “Flair has benefited from a tremendous amount of support from its vendors throughout the COVID pandemic. Several vendors agreed to defer payments.”

To be granted an air operating licence to fly from point to point in Canada, an airline must be majority-owned by Canadians. Foreign ownership is capped at 49 per cent, or 25 per cent for a single individual or entity. In addition, the airline must be controlled in fact by Canadians.

According to the CTA’s website, “control in law is generally shown by owning enough shares to carry the right to a majority of votes. Control in fact goes beyond control in law as it includes the ability to exert control by any direct or indirect influence.

“Although the term is not defined in the [Transportation] Act, the agency considers control in fact to be: the power, whether exercised or not, to control the strategic decision-making activities of an enterprise and to manage and run its day-to-day operations,” the CTA says. “Those who may have the power to influence a company’s decisions can include minority owners, designated representatives, financial institutions, employees and others.”

Ms. Harris said 777 Partners stayed out of the aircraft operations and maintenance component of the airline. “But on the commercial [side] – the schedule, what planes we were going to fly, how are we going to advertise and market, and the vendors we engaged with – it felt everything had to be almost run through them,” she said.

David Gillen, a transportation professor at the University of British Columbia, said the leases do not appear to violate Canada’s foreign ownership laws. “The lessor might wield a lot of weight in decision-making but they are not an owner, any more than the bank holding one’s mortgage is an owner – unless of course, you cannot make a payment, at which time they might become an unintentional owner,” Prof. Gillen said.

The rules are intended to ensure Canadians make the decisions that affect domestic airlines, said John Gradek, who teaches aviation leadership at McGill University.

“If Flair is trying to disrupt the Canadian marketplace without really having to follow the same rules and the same practices as other Canadian carriers, it gives them an unfair competitive advantage,” he said. Other domestic carriers would welcome the chance to have greater access to foreign funding, he added.

Flair drew the attention of the regulator due to the nature of its financial arrangements with 777 Partners, Mr. Gradek said, leasing planes from the same part-owner and lender. “I think it was the fact that 777 Partners … was the entity that really wanted to deploy airplanes into Canada,” he said.

The Flair investigation appears to be at the initial stage of fact gathering to support a recommendation of action or dismissal. “And then it’s handed up to the [CTA] panel for them to do the adjudication and the formal issuance of CTA order, if one is required,” Mr. Gradek said.

“If it’s a serious enough breach of regulations and practices they can look at … monetary penalties or they can make a recommendation to Transport Canada for a regulatory remedy, including suspension of the airline operating licence.”

Statement by Minister Alghabra to mark Drone Safety Day

Transport Canada

OTTAWA, Dec. 3, 2021 /CNW Telbec/ – Today, the Minister of Transport, the Honourable Omar Alghabra, issued the following statement:

“Across Canada, drones play an important role in connecting communities with the resources they depend on, reaching hard-to-access rural and remote areas, and helping in life-saving search and rescue and emergency operations. Drones are quickly becoming part of an important economic sector in Canada, with significant potential to improve the lives of Canadians across the country.

“Drone Safety Day recognizes the exciting and innovative world of drones and the important role all drone pilots play in flying safely. This includes keeping drones at a safe distance from people, and away from other aircraft and forest fires, floods or other natural disasters. Drone pilots must also respect the privacy rights of others when flying.

“As the popularity of drone flying increases, Canada remains a strong advocate for the safe use of drones while also encouraging innovation and economic growth in this sector. Our drone rules balance practicality and the safe use of drones, which can create new opportunities for Canadians, and allow recreational and non-recreational drone pilots to safely access Canadian airspace.

“We are working closely with industry partners on pilot projects and Special Flight Operation Certificates for new and novel operations, and are developing a regulatory framework to allow for more beyond-visual-line-of-sight operations.

“Our government looks forward to continuing to work together with communities and industry to develop the full potential that these exciting new and emerging technologies can offer Canadians.”

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A ‘Canadian first’ for drone flights at EIA

December 03, 2021 | Edmonton International Airport (EIA)

Drone event

First step towards drone logistics operations within restricted airspace

Canada’s first drone delivery operation from within an airport has taken off from Edmonton International Airport (EIA), helping chart a new path for this emerging industry.

A Sparrow drone from Drone Delivery Canada (DDC) successfully flew from the EIA Airport Operations Facility to a site in Leduc County, marking the first time this activity has been approved by NAV CANADA. This logistics operation is a major step towards the future modernization of supply chains. The Sparrow drone will soon be carrying commercial cargo packages on behalf of clients Ziing Final Mile and Apple Express. Air Canada Cargo is operating as the official agent for DDC.

Airspace around all Canadian airports is highly restricted for safety and any drone activity is forbidden without proper authorization. EIA and DDC have spent significant months working with NAV CANADA to create new approvals and safety procedures to make this and future flights possible. These initial flights will create the template for future operations that could include deliveries into populated areas, such as Edmonton or other major centres, as well as Indigenous communities and Northern communities.

“At EIA our mandate is to support economic growth and diversification in the Edmonton Metropolitan Region. Our national leadership in integrating drone technologies at an airport is giving birth to a new sector in drone logistics. The integration of these sustainable technologies is the precursor to the enablement of advanced air mobility, and it lowers barriers for the movement of goods and in the future, people.  Congratulations to all the partners involved in this ground-breaking event and who strive for an innovative future of drone operations.”

  • Myron Keehn, Vice-President, Air Service and Business Development, EIA

“Air Canada Cargo is privileged to be the catalyst for bringing the different parties together for this historic initiative. Drone operations at airports will play a vital role in the future of cargo connectivity. Congratulations to the team at Edmonton International Airport for being true visionaries and to Apple Express and Ziing Final Mile for believing in the future of the drone industry”

  • Jason Berry, Vice-President, Air Canada Cargo

“We are honoured to be working with all parties to bring meaningful value to stakeholders using our patented drone delivery solution. We are entering a unique time in transportation history as we move towards a future that suggests an entirely new landscape of opportunities for the global supply chain. To our knowledge, this is the first drone delivery project at a large-scale international airport anywhere in Canada. As an award-winning global leader, we are pleased with our continued technological and commercial successes in the drone delivery industry.”

  • Michael Zahra, President & CEO of DDC

“Unlocking the opportunities that come with advanced last-mile delivery systems is essential to meeting our customer expectations well into the future. It’s exciting to partner with Drone Delivery Canada as an early adopter in drone technology and celebrate the next big step in operationalizing this innovative transportation method for commercial use. As these shorter flight routes prove successful, we look forward to expanding our transportation network and offering our customers speedy and seamless delivery, especially in the healthcare, technology, aerospace and ecommerce industries where time-critical logistics is a must.”

  • Nasser Syed, CEO Apple Express

“We’re thrilled to be partnering with the Edmonton International Airport, Air Canada, Drone Delivery Canada and Apple Express. As an early adopter of drone technology, I believe, we’ll help businesses and communities alike by offering a last mile delivery service that’s complementary to traditional over the road delivery.”

  • Chris Higham, President & CEO of Ziing Final Mile

Example of drone usage
As the technology and safety requirements continue to evolve, possible future usages include:

  • Delivery of high-value and timely medical products
  • Secure transport of sensitive cargo
  • Delivery to remote locations, or locations where vehicle access has been disrupted
  • Using zero-emission drones to conduct final-kilometre delivery services, helping reduce vehicle traffic and emissions

Officials in Leduc County have provided tremendous support for the project, helping supply a location in the Pat Wilson Memorial Park within the Nisku business district, as the delivery location from EIA. In the coming months, drivers and residents near the airport may see the Sparrow drone flying across the Queen Elizabeth II Highway between the airport and the secondary landing location in Leduc County. All flights are done with authorization and cooperation from NAV CANADA.

“We are incredibly proud to partner with Edmonton International Airport on this drone delivery operation. Leduc County has supported the airport on a variety of investment and business opportunities, and we continually work together to advance diversification and economic development in the region. This project is both innovative and forward thinking, and Leduc County is excited to be the first municipality to host this type of service.”

  • Tanni Doblanko, Mayor, Leduc County

To ensure public safety, some of the restrictions on the drone flights include that it cannot fly over populated areas, and its flying height is limited. As the project continues to be tested and further safety requirements are met, the goal is conduct longer flights that can become delivery flight paths.

EIA drone facts
Other examples of drone usage at Edmonton International Airport include:

For more information on this project and drone operations at EIA please visit flyeia.com/dronecargo.

About Edmonton International Airport
Edmonton International Airport (EIA) is a self-funded, not-for-profit corporation whose mandate is to drive economic prosperity for the Edmonton Metropolitan Region. EIA is Canada’s fifth-busiest airport by passenger traffic and the largest major Canadian airport by land area. EIA’s Airport City Sustainability Campus is a living lab for accelerating the development, testing, implementation, and commercialization of technology. EIA offers non-stop connections to destinations across Canada, the US, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Europe. EIA is a major economic driver, with an economic output of over C $ 3.2 billion, supporting over 26,000 jobs. Follow @flyeia on Twitter, Instagram, Linkedin or Facebook. For more information, please visit: flyeia.com, follow @flyeia on TwitterInstagramLinkedin or Facebook.