Whitehorse Daily Star

Image title

Photo by Whitehorse Star

Air North’s president Joe Sparling and Economic Development Minister Ranj Pillai

Image title

Photo by Photo Submitted

MARKING A MILESTONE – This was the celebratory scene Wednesday at the Air North check-in counter at the Kelowna airport. From left to right are Joshua Clark, the director of charters, FBO and corporate sales for Air North; Eva M., the spouse of Anton M., the three millionth jet passenger; Anton M.; Phillip Elchitz, the airport’s senior manager, airport operations; and Bev Blair, a passenger service agent. Photo courtesy AIR NORTH, YUKON’S AIRLINE

Air North celebrates three million jet passengers

Air North welcomed its three millionth jet passenger Wednesday aboard its Boeing 737-500 C-FANF operated by a Yukon-based crew.

By Whitehorse Star on September 22, 2022

Air North welcomed its three millionth jet passenger Wednesday aboard its Boeing 737-500 C-FANF operated by a Yukon-based crew. Members included Capt. Corie Faulkner, first officer Ricardo Espinosa and flight attendants Susan Gregory-Allen, Nona Faulds and Janmae Valdez.

“Congratulations go to Yukon resident Anton M., who boarded Air North Flight 540 (Wednesday) morning from Kelowna to Vancouver and Whitehorse,” the airline said.

“He was presented with a complimentary round-trip airfare as a thank-you.”

Air North began Boeing jet service in 2002, and, in the first 10 years, saw its first millionth passenger.

“Another 10 years, and today we see that number has tripled,” the airline said. “Air North thanks its staff, who have been instrumental in achieving this milestone.

“The flight crews, passenger service agents, reservations, flight kitchen, cargo crew, IT and administrative staff have all contributed to this moment.”

“This milestone is incredible for the company,” said Joe Sparling, Air North’s president.

“Three million passengers is a relatively small number for a big airline, but for a small airline like us, it is huge.

“Over our 20 years providing jet service based in the Yukon, this represents the equivalent of about 20 round-trips ‘Outside’ for every Yukoner, plus about 1.5 million flights for visitors to the Yukon.

“By transporting three million passengers on our 100-per-cent Yukon-owned air service, about $600 million has either remained in our economy or has flowed into our economy, providing employment, supporting Yukon businesses, broadening the horizons of our youth, and making the Yukon a better place to live and work.”

Greg Charlie is a Vuntut Gwitchin member and has been a member of Air North’s board of directors for the past 21 years.

“Three million passengers in 20 years is a remarkable achievement, and one which provides real meaning to reconciliation,” Charlie said.

“Prior to 2002, aviation was an imported product for the Yukon. Now it is a locally produced product with a major First Nation ownership stake, and it not only ensures affordable travel out of and into the territory, but it also ensures affordable travel within the Yukon.”

The airline is “proud to be able to facilitate connectivity between the traditional territories of Yukon First Nations and the traditional territories of First Nations throughout Canada,” Charlie added.

“(Wednesday’s) milestone wouldn’t have been possible without the support of Yukoners, shareholders, and passengers over the past 20 years.”

Air North, founded on Feb. 1, 1977 by Sparling and Tom Woods, has grown exponentially over the last 45 years.

With a fleet of Boeing 737s and ATR-42 aircraft, the airline connects travellers between Whitehorse, Vancouver, Kelowna, Victoria, Calgary, Edmonton, Yellowknife, Ottawa, Dawson City, Old Crow and Inuvik.

A new direct service from Whitehorse to Toronto began this past summer, connecting the capitals of the Yukon and Ontario and further expanding the airline’s Canadian network.

Air North also flies charter services for both passengers and cargo across North America.

“Yukoners across the territory are proud to fly with Air North, and with three million passengers and counting, the future is looking bright for Yukon’s renowned airline,” the Yukon government said Wednesday.

“Congratulations to Air North, Yukon’s Airline on their remarkable achievement of hosting three million passengers,” added Economic Development Minister Ranj Pillai.

“It is great to see Yukon’s airline continue to succeed and expand, including the recent announcement of direct flights to both Yellowknife and Toronto.

“These new expanded routes will give more Yukoners the chance to explore their country and other parts of the world while allowing more visitors to be welcomed to the Yukon.”

Air North currently employs more than 400 full- and part-time workers.

Air North also flies charter services for both passengers and cargo across North America.

Comments (13)

Up 2 Down 11

TheHammer on Sep 25, 2022 at 11:58 am

One of the definite signs of an overpopulation crisis, fueled by the nomadic, cultureless Canadian rootlessness.

Up 16 Down 9

Juniper Jackson on Sep 24, 2022 at 1:33 pm

Air North..the only way to fly. The customer service is beyond and above expectation. My story: Several years ago, I was sent out to Vancouver, had extensive surgery. I did not have id, a purse, nothing. I was wearing slippers and pants over a hospital gown. For some reason, 3 days later, i caught a ride to the airport. The AirNorth staff had a record of me going out. Long story short. They put me on that plane to home with no ID, money, and I had so many staples in me i rang the alarm. They probably broke every rule in the flight book to be kind, humane. How do you ever thank policy that lets people do these things? Their bills got paid.

So..yeah..my complete congratulations for make it this far Joe. Lots of struggles. Hope it was personally worth it to you. And grats to all the staff that made it happen. As for Ranj? He's just another POS Liberal looking for some paper space so he can run for party leader. However..he DOES seem to have nice hair.

Up 22 Down 7

Narcissism is real on Sep 24, 2022 at 10:47 am

At shareholder on Sep 23, 2022 at 2:49 pm:

You completely mischaracterized what Sharon was saying. The fact that people upvoted you is disappointing to say the least.

I agree with Sharon - Ranj Pillai has no business in this story. The picture should have been about Air North - Not a Lib-Gov opportunist campaigning for the next chapter of their political career - Expressed narcissism, may your political career Rest in Peace at the next occasion…

Up 23 Down 6

Sharon on Sep 23, 2022 at 8:15 pm

@shareholder … your comment directed at me has nothing to do with what I was saying.

I was saying that the Liberals had nothing to do with Air North’s or their “shareholders” achievement of 3 million passengers. Why not let them celebrate without having some guys picture next to Joe. We love hearing about their achievements. That’s what media is for.

But having the Media post a picture of Ranj who had nothing to do with it is just helping him campaign. He wants to be premier. Getting his face out in stories he has nothing to do with.

Up 19 Down 12

shareholder on Sep 23, 2022 at 2:49 pm


It's owned by Joe Sparling (51%) and the Vuntut Development Corporation (49%) and plenty of Yukoners are shareholders so we want to know what is going on in 'our' business.

If you don't want to know then don't read the article.

Up 9 Down 31

Mr Facts on Sep 23, 2022 at 2:30 pm

I can't wait till we see what they give for the 4th million customer. Free seat selection and "2" warm cookies.

Rick from Pawn stars voice "That's the best I can do"


Up 31 Down 4

John on Sep 23, 2022 at 2:05 pm

Personally, if I had been number three million, I would have demanded warm cookies for life.
Congrats Air North - you are the best. The North would be lost without you!

Up 34 Down 4

SH on Sep 23, 2022 at 12:11 pm

Mr Facts, Air North is well-known for it's generosity to the community. You'd be amazed at how many non-profits the business has donated to and supported over the years.

Up 36 Down 5

Doris Allen on Sep 23, 2022 at 8:34 am

You are the best, congratulations Joe, job well done.

Up 9 Down 54

Mr Facts on Sep 22, 2022 at 6:06 pm

Probally made multiple billions of dollars since the start and all you can offer the 3 millionth customer is a round trip ticket? *golf clap*

Up 63 Down 15

Yukoner on Sep 22, 2022 at 3:00 pm

Ranj loading up on his public face time.. must be an election coming.

Up 82 Down 18

Sharon on Sep 22, 2022 at 2:21 pm

Know what I really hate? When government gets their fingers in EVERYTHING. Just because Ranj Pillai "congratulated" Air North on 3m passengers, doesn't mean he should get his face in the paper. This is a private business, and a major accomplishment. It has absolutely nothing to do with government. Keep the politicians out of these stories. They don't need a quote or soundbite in every bloody thing to do with the territory. Congratulations to Air North, to Joe and fam. This is huge and you deserve the kudos without political clingers-on trying to get their name and face in everything pre-campaign.

Up 76 Down 6

Groucho d'North on Sep 22, 2022 at 1:21 pm

I recall the YG Tourism department hired some air transport expert to anayize Air North's plans to expand into jet service. His conclusion was that Air Canada would squash Air North and dominate the northern air service.
Given the realities of today, I wonder what he would say now?
Congratulations to Joe, Deb and their crew of outstanding staff who beat the odds and demonstrated what a well-considered business plan can do with some unwavering hard work. I also like to remind people of what the experts in the air travel trade had to say about our wonderful Air North...https://www.globeguide.ca/air-north-airline-review/ Be sure to read the comments following the article.

Add your comments or reply via Twitter @whitehorsestar

In order to encourage thoughtful and responsible discussion, website comments will not be visible until a moderator approves them. Please add comments judiciously and refrain from maligning any individual or institution. Read about our user comment and privacy policies.

Your name and email address are required before your comment is posted. Otherwise, your comment will not be posted.