Buyer approved for Great Slave Helicopters, but questions remain for company's future
Future of Yellowknife-based company unclear as it undergoes restructuring
An Ontario court has approved the sale of Great Slave Helicopters, but the future for the Yellowknife-based company remains unclear.
On Friday, Ontario Superior Court Justice Glenn A. Hainey approved the sale of Great Slave Helicopters to Great Slave Helicopters 2018 Ltd., a company formerly known as 11088211 Canada Corp.
Great Slave Helicopters was granted creditor protection in September so the company could continue to provide services while it restructured or until a buyer was found.
The company was previously a subsidiary of now-defunct Discovery Air, which received creditor protection in March.
The really positive thing of this is there's going to be a GSH.- Al Martin, president of Great Slave Helicopters and Air Tindi
Al Martin, president of Great Slave Helicopters and Air Tindi, would not say how much was paid for Great Slave Helicopters.
In an affidavit sworn in August, Martin said the helicopter company had been losing more than $5 million a year due to, among other factors, a decline in oil, gas and mining activities.
"The really positive of thing of this is that there is going to be a GSH [Great Slave Helicopters]," said Martin.
"I'm hopeful there will still be a significant presence in the North."
But as of Monday, the future of Great Slave Helicopters was unclear.
The new Great Slave Helicopters 2018 Ltd. is principally owned by Pat Campling Jr., Martin confirmed.
Campling Jr., who was formerly the interim CEO of West Wind Aviation in Saskatoon, could not be reached for comment.
Great Slave Helicopters is one of the largest helicopter operators in Canada. It employs around 200 people and has a fleet of about 51 helicopters.
Martin said he will not stay on as president.
Court challenges complicated sale
Right before the deal was finalized on Friday, the sale of Great Slave Helicopters ran into complications.
James Thorbourne, CEO of the Gwich'in Development Corporation, challenged the sale Thursday in court.
He stated in an affidavit that the Gwich'in Development Corporation had the right to make the first offer on Great Slave Helicopters' interest in Gwich'in Helicopters Ltd., another company jointly owned by the two entities and was included in the sale of Great Slave Helicopters.
The sale to the numbered company ignored that right, he argued.
The Gwich'in Development Corporation had a 51 per cent stake in Gwich'in Helicopters, and Great Slave Helicopters owned the other 49 per cent.
Thorbourne declined to comment on this story to CBC News, but he laid out his argument in court documents.
"It is clearly very important that GDC [Gwich'in Development Corporation] has the final say in who will be its joint venture partner and manager," Thorbourne stated in the court documents.
Great Slave Helicopters was also a minority owner of Sahtu Helicopters with the Fort Norman Métis Nation Local No. 54 Land Corporation.
The Ontario judge agreed. Though Hainey approved the sale of Great Slave Helicopters, he also directed the new company to give the Gwich'in Development Corporation and Sahtu Helicopters the opportunity to buy joint venture interests in the two smaller helicopter companies.