Charter backer links with European firm
Canada Air strikes deal with owner of the Minardi F-1 team
NICOLAS VAN PRAET
Saturday, June 01, 2002
Steve Nasra used newspaper ads to chronicle his fight to get his project airborne.
Canada Air Charter, the Montreal airline service that plans to offer free booze and to wheedle the region's ethnic communities onto its flights, has finally secured aircraft and government licenses by partnering with a company that owns the Minardi Formula 1 racing team.
The Montreal charter company has teamed up with European Aviation Group, owned by Australian Paul Stoddart.
European Aviation's charter division will supply Canada Air Charter with at least three Boeing 747-200 aircraft. Yesterday, the British-based company secured its license to operate from the Canadian Transportation Agency.
"It was a great day for us," said Daniel Guay, a legal representative for European Aviation.
"We're getting green lights."
Canada Air Charter, the pet project of Montreal entrepreneur Steve Nasra, has been hit with setback after setback since its inception several months ago.
First, major established airlines refused to lease his company planes, Nasra claims.
Then, the federal government ordered the company to stop selling tickets because it did not have the proper licenses.
Nasra chronicled many of the details to get his project airborne by buying repeated advertisements in La Presse. He's also been hyping the project on local ethnic radio programs for weeks.
Now, the new target date for Canada Air Charter's inaugural flight is set for June 17.
His critics remain, however.
They say Nasra is simply an over-ambitious dreamer who still has no chance of making his charter company work in the long run.
They wonder where the 440 people will come from to fill every Boeing 747 jet to the exotic destinations he's targeted - Rome, Tunis, Lisbon, Madrid, Dakar, Abidjan, Martinique and Port-au-Prince.
He countered yesterday by saying: "When I say it will take off, it will take off. There are always skeptical people in this industry. I would be surprised if there weren't."
European Aviation will operate aircraft for two other Canadian-based charter companies, in addition to Canada Air Charter.
© Copyright 2002 Montreal Gazette