Innu, Inuit join forces to create new airline for Labrador

The move will create a monopoly on air service to Labrador’s northern coastal communities, which are accessible only by plane for most of the year, and rely on airlines for travel and food shipments.

Air Borealis will have monopoly on airline travel to northern coastal communities

Air Borealis is a partnership between The Innu Development Limited Partnership (IDLP), the Nunatsiavut Group of Companies (NGC) and PAL Airlines. (Katie Breen/CBC)

A Labrador airline serving the region since before the province joined Canada is folding into a new, joint operation called Air Borealis.

Air Labrador is majority owned by the business arm of the Nunatsiavut Government, the Nunatsiavut Group of Companies (NGC).

Air Borealis will be operated by PAL Airlines. (Katie Breen/CBC)

It will combine with Innu Mikun — another Labrador airline with Indigenous ownership — to form the new company which will begin operation on June 16.

The Innu Development Limited Partnership (IDLP) "has enjoyed an excellent relationship with PAL Airlines over the last 20 years and we are excited to launch our new brand for this partnership," Simon Osmond, business manager of IDLP, said in a press release.

"Air Borealis is positioned very well for future growth and enhanced service.  We thank the NGC leadership for working with us to make this a reality and look forward to continued success." 

Air Borealis will begin operations effective June 16. (Katie Breen/CBC)

The move will create a monopoly on air service to Labrador's northern coastal communities, which are accessible only by plane for most of the year, and rely on airlines for travel and essentials such as food shipments.

Air Borealis will introduce a new midday flight to the north coast and will have access to more aircraft "enabling faster response times and greater capacity for the delivery of goods and passengers," according to a statement Friday.

PAL Airlines, which currently runs Innu Mikun, will also run Air Borealis. 

In a separate press release on Friday, PAL announced it would be extending its service to seven airports on the lower north shore of Quebec, where Air Labrador used to operate. 

Innu and Inuit receive discounted fares through Air Labrador and Innu Mikun. The percentage of the discount hasn't yet been determined for Air Borealis, but an Air Labrador spokesperson said Friday that some sort of reduction for Innu and Inuit would be kept in place.  

Air Labrador serviced remote Labrador communities and the Quebec North Shore. (Jacob Barker)