When Air Labrador ceased to exist last week, its longest serving pilot figured that was as good a time as any to end his highly respected career. Lester Powell spent 44 years engaged in some of the most challenging flying on Earth, ensuring people and freight could move in and out of the far-flung communities of northern Labrador and Quebec. “When you’ve flown in as much weather — and often without [instrument flight rules and] things like that — and you’re able to hang up your headset and still be here and be safe, it’s worth celebrating,” Dempster said. Although he spent more than four decades and 35,000 flight hours at Air Labrador, he was only there for half of the airline’s life. It was founded in 1948 and was one of the longest lived airlines in the world until last week when it became part of a new venture called Air Borealis.
Air Borealis is the amalgamation of Air Labrador, which is owned by the Inuit-owned Nunatsiavut Group of Companies and Innu Mikun, owned by the Innu Development Limited Partnership. Innu Mikun was run by PAL Airlines and the new airline will be run by PAL. The amalgamation has created a monopoly but rather than compete for passengers the schedules of the two carriers can be adjusted to provide expanded service. New flights will be added and the greater availability of aircraft will ensure faster response times for needed services. Innu and Inuit residents will get discounted fares on Air Borealis.