The first tangible evidence of the merger of First Air and Canadian North rolled out in the form of a freshly painted ATR 42 this week but the sometimes painful process of creating a single entity out of two will take about two years according to senior executives of the new company. On the public side, things will happen relatively quickly, said incoming CEO Chris Avery. The planes will be painted, the gates redecorated and the schedules merged by the end of the year. The technical and legal details of essentially dismantling two companies and recreating them under a single banner is complex he said.
Avery also delivered a message that most were expecting and confirmed there will be job losses. First Air has 700 workers and Canadian North about 800 and some overlap. “We realize that causes some uncertainties for our employees,” Avery told a town hall meeting in Iqaluit. “[This merger] is about gaining efficiencies, so there will be some job losses.” But he also stressed the airline is owned by two Inuit corporations so there is a focus on easing the impact on those communities. He said he hopes the job losses can be achieved through attrition and buyouts.