In the late 1980s, Wasaya Airways expanded from a floatplane operation to a turbine fleet operation. The focus was charter and freight business which was centred out of Pickle Lake, Ontario, with the administration offices located in Thunder Bay.
In 1995, Wasaya Airways expanded into Scheduled Passenger Service, while still maintaining the charter and freighting business. In 1999, Wasaya Airways transitioned the Scheduled Passenger Service into a Scheduled Charter Service concept. This allowed Wasaya Airways to fully concentrate on its core business: the Cargo Operation and Passenger Charter Service.
In July 2000, Wasaya Airways LP, as part of its restructuring process relocated and centralized its administration offices, including Flight Operations, Maintenance and Charter Sales to new premises at the Fort William First Nation.
Since 2001, Wasaya Airways has successfully gained new partnerships with various organizations with the purpose of providing contract transportation services. The services offered range from providing transportation to employees to their work sites in First Nation communities to flying in tourists to enjoy a week’s stay at a fishing lodge.
In June 2001, Wasaya Airways and Northern Nishnawbe Education Council (NNEC) entered into an agreement to provide safe, efficient, and cost-effective air transportation to students, families and NNEC Staff. The Air Delivery Unit (ADU) was formed to organize and coordinate all First Nation students’ travel through charter and scheduled service bookings. Subsequently, in 2002 and 2003, the ADU has been awarded contracts with Tikinagan Child and Family Services, Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN), and Nishnawbe Aski Legal Services to provide for their specific travel needs.
In September 2002, Wasaya Airways acquired the Kelner Pilatus Center Hangar at the Thunder Bay International Airport and in turn centralized the Maintenance department and personnel. The Wasaya Center is not only utilized as a maintenance facility but also as a departing station for our charter flights and contract charter customers.
In July 2003, Wasaya Airways purchased some of the Northern Assets of Bearskin Airlines from Sioux Lookout and Red Lake north. This saw Wasaya Airways enter back into the Scheduled Passenger business with service to 21 First Nation communities in Northwestern Ontario. The expansion also added additional aircraft to Wasaya’s already modern and state-of-the-art passenger fleet and provided 85 additional employees to Wasaya Airways.
In April 2018, Wasaya Airways, owned 100% by 12 First Nations in Northwestern Ontario entered into an agreement with the Exchange Income Corporation (EIC) whereby EIC recapitalized Wasaya and the Wasaya shareholders exchanged a portion of their interests in Wasaya for shares of EIC. This partnership vastly increases the level of service in Northern Ontario and benefits customers in their communities.
The enhanced level of service in Northern Ontario will benefit the people in our own communities as well as those in the non-ownership communities we serve. Partnering with EIC is a natural fit. They understand aviation, servicing the North, and of utmost importance, they have a great history working with First Nations across Canada to provide quality air service to these communities.
Exchange Income Corporation brings multiple airlines of similar size and scope with the ability to enhance Wasaya’s operation.