Tuesday, October 20, 2009

More Moose Air

So as mentioned, I think this is a very good deal for both parties. Good on Calm Air for going out and making this happen because it gets their name out in front of more potential customers, both for their commercial and charter business.

But let us take a few steps back. The airline industry is an industry littered with casualities. Casualities? Isn't airline travel glamorous, with all those wonderful destinations and high paying jobs?

In a word, no.

The airline business (both here in Canada and elsewhere) is notoriously difficult to make money at, and is even worse when it comes to job security. From the price of oil (affecting fuel prices) to the threat of terrorism to global health crises (SARS in 2003), the industry is highly susceptible to forces beyond its control, which in turn can have drastic impacts on the number of passengers buying tickets. But go and throw in the occasional price war (where seats are sold at a loss) and while the plane might be full, the airline is losing a ton of money operating that flight.

(See Canadian Airlines International, Wardair, JetsGo, Canada 3000, Roots Air, and a few other examples of failed airlines in Canada alone.)

Amidst all the doom and gloom, Calm Air is a success story. Established in 1962 and based in Thompson, the airline is owned by the Exchange Industrial Corporation (EIC). The airline operates passenger and freight services in northern Manitoba and Nunavut while also doing charter work (like polar bear tours to Churchill and fly-in fishing lodges in northern Manitoba). In fact, many of their 17 aircraft are configured to transport both freight and passengers. But wait, it gets better. They have never gone bankrupt, they are never mentioned in the newspaper as being on the verge of bankruptcy, and their generosity to northern Manitobans over the years has been legendary.

(Case in point... several years back a young Thompson resident who was an up and coming musician had to take lessons in Winnipeg because Thompson lacked the instructors that he needed. The family could not afford to fly their child back and forth virtually every weekend, so Calm Air transported the child free of charge over the course of a long period of time so he could get his training. The company has also been a generous sponsor of many, many events in Thompson and other points in the north.)

This partnership is smart for both parties for several reasons. Calm Air aircraft will be seen all over the continent, increasing brand awareness of the airline. As well, providing aircraft services for a professional hockey team that is seen by many as the envy of the AHL is a smart move. The Moose meanwhile, are supporting a strong local company with deep roots in this province while at the same time making their travels a whole lot easier and increasing their cachet as a hockey team that operates like a NHL franchise.

All in all, this has the appearance of a solid relationship.

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