Canadian North is expanding its operations at the Edmonton International airport to include an aircraft maintenance facility in its 90,000 square foot hangar. The facility is expected to be operational by March.

According to a statement released Thursday, the company says the new operation will create 30 full-time jobs, including work for aircraft maintenance engineers and other aircraft maintenance support workers. The company currently contracts out most of its aircraft maintenance work.

Edmonton hangar upgrades, equipment purchases and hiring represent a "multimillion dollar investment," including $3.3 million in expected annual salaries and capital costs, said company spokesperson Kelly Lewis. Lewis said bringing the work in-house will mean "substantial cost savings that will make the venture profitable immediately."

Northern apprentices wanted

Steve Hankirk, president of Canadian North, told CBC he has approached four northern colleges to offer apprenticeship programs at the new facility.

"We'll target our ownership group, the Inuvialuit ... to get these young guys in as apprentices and over the course of four years turn them into fully fledged aircraft maintenance engineers."

The company said, once running, the new facility will give it the capability to fulfill all of its line maintenance, heavy maintenance and manufacturing requirements for its fleet of Boeing 737-300, Boeing 737-200 and Bombardier Dash-8 aircraft.

Canadian North says the investment is also part of a diversification plan. It intends to offer aircraft maintenance services to other airlines.

"By offering access to our highly trained team members and well-equipped facility to other airlines, we'll be helping to position Edmonton as a leading aerospace maintenance hub, stimulating even more economic activity in the region," Hankirk stated in the press release.

Canadian North is owned by the Inuvialuit Development Corporation. It serves the Northwest Territories and Nunavut with scheduled and chartered flights, and provides chartered flights across North America.

With files from Brandon Maher