As Ben and Andrew experienced on their recent trip to Whitehorse, small airlines can be an important part of remote communities. The more isolated the area, the more valuable the services of small airlines become.
And in places like Alaska and northern Canada, there are many towns that aren’t connected by roads, and rely upon small aircraft to “fly-in” food, equipment, and more. Alaska Airlines still operates what they refer to as “Milk Run” routes to drop cargo and connect smaller towns.
There’s an interesting story out of Vancouver, Canada, where an Indigenous woman has started a new airline to specifically serve these small communities. While it’s not uncommon for Indigenous groups to invest in air service (Air North is 49% owned by the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation), this seems to be the first airline built from the ground up by an Indigenous woman.
Iskwew Air will start both charter and scheduled passenger service from Vancouver International Airport in March, operating a single Piper Navajo aircraft. Given the Indigenous focus of the airline, and that one of the goals is to improve access and tourism to First Nations communities, the announcement of operations was preceded by a blessing ceremony earlier this week.
Hands raised to the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) representatives who attended today’s blessing ceremony. It is very important to us that @IskwewAir honours protocol and sought the blessing of the Musqueam peoples to operate on their traditional lands before launching. pic.twitter.com/zyPi8KrO7j
— Iskwew Air (@IskwewAir) September 22, 2018
When corporations or investment firms start new airlines (or pretend to), they tend to get a lot of coverage, which makes sense, as we’re all interested in airlines we might someday consider flying.
This is obviously a different scale, and most of us will probably never interact with this airline, but I thought it was a sweet and empowering story, so figured I’d share. You can hear a short interview with the CEO and how she decided to become a pilot here.
There’s also local news story here as well, if you’d like to watch (apologies for the Twitter embed, but this was the best I could find).
AND, here is the TV item, in case you missed it! Canada's first ever Indigenous woman-owned airline ready for take off. pic.twitter.com/IwPzBFpwt8
— Angela Sterritt (@AngelaSterritt) September 23, 2018
(Featured image via YVR Airport)