Air North projects $1.5M profit after landmark quarter

Joe Sparling, the president of Air North, says the Yukon-based airline is poised to turn a profit for the first time in years due to diversifying its operations into sectors like ground handling and expanded charter services.

President Joe Sparling says profit due to diversifying operations

An Air North 737 takes off from the Whitehorse Airport. The airline is projecting a $1.5 million profit this year after posting operating losses for years. (Air North)

Air North's president had good news for shareholders Monday night, as he announced the company is projecting an operating profit following years of losses.

Joe Sparling says Air North is projecting an operating profit of $1.5 million this year, compared to an operating loss of $2.2 million two years ago, and that this year has provided the Yukon airline with one of their best first quarters ever.

"As we go into 2015 through the first quarter, and almost through the second quarter, significantly improved results," he says, "so I think we have lots of reasons to be pleased."

The impressive quarter is in large part because Air North has found ways to expand its business outside of its core airline routes, says Sparling. The company has increased charter activities and more than doubled its fuel sales, and has also taken over ground handling duties for international airways in Canada.

"We've grown our ground handling activities," says Sparling, "primarily at YVR, where we're now ground handling for American Airlines and U.S. Airways, as well as United Airlines, and we're groundhandling for KLM in Edmonton."

Sparling says the size of Air North's workforce has grown.

"We've now got more than 250 employees in Vancouver," he says. "Our out-of-territory employees are now pretty well at the same number as our in-territory employees."

Diversification is particularly important, says Sparling, as the company battles with Air Canada and Westjet to get a larger share of the market on its core routes. According to Sparling, there are too many seats on the Whitehorse-Vancouver route for the number of passengers flying.

Sparling also says that a route added in February 2014 from Whitehorse to Ottawa via Yellowknife "didn't really meet expectations initially" but that, in recent months, numbers have started to improve.

"By July, just as an illustration, we had a 78 per cent load factor," says Sparling, "which was the best of all of our scheduled routes." 


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