The Montreal, Canada-based carrier will soon operate three B737-800 combi aircraft, capable of accommodating passengers and cargo, alike. They are said to replace some of its ageing five B737-200 jetliners, cutting fuel emissions by up to 40% in comparison. However, while the B37-2 can operate on the gravel airstrips that are common in Canada’s remote regions, the newer B37-8s have not been approved to do so. Consequently, Air Inuit (IATA: 3H) is urging the Ottawa government to pave the runways of the airports served by the carrier in the Nunavik region and on the Labrador Peninsula.
The three B737-800NGs will be customized to provide safe passenger service, as well as reliable freight transportation. Each of the three Boeing variants will be fitted with main deck cargo doors in order to meet requirements for Nunavik’s hubs.
The first B37-8 Combi will be operational next spring
Aeronautical Engineers Inc (AEI) is responsible for converting the Boeings to aircraft capable of accommodating both passengers and cargo on their main decks (combis). Kelowna-based AEI is the only Canadian company certified to perform these modifications. The first of the three jetliners, which is 11 years old, will enter conversion in NOV23, and is scheduled to be handed over to the operator by the end of MAR24. It offers a main deck payload of up to 23.9 tons, and incorporates eleven 88″ x 125″ full-height container positions, plus an additional position for an AEP/AEH unit load device. The conversion also incorporates new floor beams aft of the wing box, and a large 86″ x 137″ main cargo door with a single vent door system.
From South Africa to Northern Canada
The first Boeing 737-800 to start its second life as combi aircraft, was previously owned by South African airline, Comair, and has meanwhile received the Canadian registration C-FTUW. It arrived at Kelowna Airport (YLW) on 25AUG23, after a two-day flight from Johannesburg (JNB), with intermediate stops at Sao Tome (TMS), Santa Maria (SMA) at the Azores Islands, and Montreal (YUL).
“The addition of these three aircraft to our fleet enhances our capacity to efficiently transport passengers and deliver essential cargo to the communities we serve,” Christian Busch, President and Chief Executive Officer of Air Inuit, said in a company release.
The B737-8s mark a milestone for 3H
Robert T. Convey, AEI's Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing, said, “We are honored that Air Inuit has selected AEI's B737-800 freighter and combi as part of its fleet modernization plans. We welcome Air Inuit to AEI's family of customers and look forward to a successful relationship.”
The B37-8s addition to Air Inuit’s fleet marks a milestone for the airline, which was founded in 1978. “We are proud to provide this vital service, celebrating 45 years of operation in 2023. Once again, Air Inuit demonstrates leadership as it grows and adapts to the changing needs of the communities it serves,” stated Noah Tayara.
Touching the airport conditions in many parts of northern Canada, CEO Busch urges the Quebec and the Federal Government to update the infrastructure. “We intend to modernize our fleet by operating more environmentally friendly aircraft in the future, but this needs an infrastructure that goes with it.” In a statement, he reminded policymakers that Air Inuit operates Twin Otters, Dash 8s and B737-200. “The Boeing aircraft might seem of older generation, but we fly them out of obligation, not by choice, because the 737-200 is the only jetliner that is certified to land and operate on gravel,” the executive explains.
The longtime Vice-President and Chief Operating Officer at the Nunavik airline joined the Canadian carrier in 2002. On 01APR21, Busch was appointed CEO.
Air Inuit is owned by the Makivvit Corporation. Founded in 1978, the enterprise combines traditional Inuit rights, and tries to turn political impulses and business acumen into successful economic initiatives that contribute to the national, provincial, and regional wellbeing.
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