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An extraordinary airline

Air North’s transformation from a local to a regional airline has been remarkable.It wasn’t that long ago that the company was flying…

Air North’s transformation from a local to a regional airline has been remarkable.

It wasn’t that long ago that the company was flying DC3s.

Now, following its second successful share offering, it will have a new 737 in its hangar, its second modern jet.

It’s also adding a new turboprop to its local routes.

To finance the new aircraft, Air North recently drummed up $4.7 million from the public in three days, selling 636 shares at $7,500 a pop.

On the surface, such a sale in a small jurisdiction — even a wealthy one — is amazing.

But Air North has catered to the public it serves.

Its employees are cheerful, the service is great and the airline remains approachable and nimble in dealing with its customers’ needs, something its chief competitor seems incapable of matching.

Air North has earned the public’s trust.

So, when its second share offering was made, the public snapped the paper up.

Most consider the shares a good investment. Of the original 320 investors, 288 elected to keep their shares.

But selling a stake in the company is also a clever business move.

The company’s new jet will improve fuel efficiency, which should give Air North a little protection from rising fuel prices.

And Air North has roped in locals, who now have a stake in its future. They’ll be encouraging friends, relatives and business associates to use it when they fly North.

Also, locals will be more prone to use the airline. And that built-in owner/passenger may discourage another rival, like WestJet, from entering the Yukon market.

For his work building Air North, company president Joe Sparling won the Transportation Association of Canada Achievement Award last year.

It was no fluke. Sparling has methodically developed the airline.

And now he’s vowed to continue the airline’s focus on the Yukon and its links to Alberta and BC.

It’s proved a good strategy for all.

Yukoners will, no doubt, wish him well.

After all, one in every 10 has a bought a stake in Air North’s future.

And that’s remarkable indeed. (RM)

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