I know that the fleets are different, with First Air having a mix of older boeings and turboprops, and Westjet has newer 73G's. Would a fleet merger be possible?
With regards to route structure it seems to me that First Air's route structure would mesh well with Westjet's, filling in northern Canada, while providing great connections for the residents up there to the rest of the world. (I'm not sure if First Air has any codeshare agreements worked out. I did not see anything other than participation in Aeroplan, no mention of an AC agreement)
This is a purely hypothetical though, no rumors of it actually happening. I'm just curious to see what you guys think about how something like this would work.
ZBBYLW From Canada, joined Nov 2006, 2018 posts, RR: 6
Reply 2, posted (7 years 11 months 2 weeks 5 days 15 hours ago) and read 2961 times:
I think they could work out a code-share agreement, but will never join at the hip. WS would have to much to loose. Right now they are an efficient company with 1 aircraft type and a management structure that suits them extremely well. They would not want to merge with anyone else. Also I believe first air is owned by the Inuit, and they would not want to give that up. A code share agreement could work though...
Pnwtraveler From Canada, joined Jun 2007, 2376 posts, RR: 11
Reply 7, posted (7 years 11 months 2 weeks 5 days 11 hours ago) and read 2823 times:
Very interesting idea. Never thought of this.
Serving the North requires a totally different mind set. The weather and other delays suit it to a much more flexible operation than someone like WestJet is used to. They are professional and are a good company but still have a lot of bush pilot roots that may not mesh well with a bigger corporate entity.
AC183 From Canada, joined Jul 1999, 1532 posts, RR: 2
Reply 8, posted (7 years 11 months 2 weeks 5 days 10 hours ago) and read 2792 times:
First Air and Canadian North are both owned by the Inuit. I believe Air North is also fully or at least partially owned by an Inuit investment group.
I have a hard time seeing WestJet merging with any of these carriers. The north is simply a different operating environment. Freighters and combis are important. And lots of old airplanes are used up there because there's quite a few spots with gravel runways. It just doesn't fit in with WS strategy. I think the routes WITHIN the north will remain the domain of specialist carriers. I also don't see AC combining with them, since both Canadian North and NWT Air were sold off by CP and AC some years ago (NWT Air merged with 7F).
More likely routes TO the north, meaning the busier and less remote northern cities (the ones with better airfield facilities, whether YZF, YXY or perhaps eventually even YTH or YFB) will have some interest from WS to serve them or to see AC service expanded, and the arctic carriers will have to feed from those points rather than from YEG, YWG, YOW, YUL.
I would wonder, however, if Air North wouldn't make sense to merge with either Canadian North or First Air, simply because they really lack the economies of scale to support their own fleet (2 737's and 4 HS.748's). For that matter Calm Air could also potentially fit with a larger northern carrier. But to some extent the arctic operating environment is ideal for several smaller carriers to provide local service - it's the last domain of the bush pilots.