Born In The North
From fishing camp to Central Canada’s regional airline! The Calm Air story begins in the 1950’s with the Company’s founders, Arnold and Gail Morberg, building a fishing camp on Black Lake, Saskatchewan. Recognizing the importance of reliable air service to their camp and guests, Arnold earned his pilot’s license and purchased a small single-engine float plane. By 1962, Calm Air had a charter license at nearby Stony Rapids and the Company moved not only guests and supplies to Morberg’s Camps but served the communities needs as well. (It is interesting to note that the company derived its name from the initials of Arnold’s full name, Carl Arnold Lawrence Morberg). In 1969, Arnold and Gail bought Fred Chupka’s Northern Manitoba airline operation based in Lynn Lake, Manitoba. Soon after, Calm Air began scheduled Twin Otter passenger service throughout the area. Lynn Lake would become home base for both the Morbergs and their Company over the next sixteen years, as Arnold and Gail raised their four children and expanded their business. The 70’s saw construction of the new hydro-electric power facilities and mining exploration, creating the opportunity for rapid growth in Northern Manitoba and for Calm Air.
Onwards & Upwards
Calm Air began operations in Churchill, Manitoba’s Arctic Seaport in 1975. A short year later, Calm Air took over Transair’s Twin Otter operations in the Keewatin and, with the construction of Calm Air’s facility at the Rankin Inlet airport, the Keewatin gained its first truly year-round resident airline service. It was during this period that Calm Air acquired its first Hawker Siddeley 748 aircraft, which offered increased capacity and comfort in a warm, pressurized environment. The Hawker’s ability to carry over 40 passengers, or 12,500 lbs of freight or a combination of both allowed Calm Air the versatility to meet the needs of Churchill and the Keewatin communities. A substantial freight operation from Churchill developed DC-4 servicing Cullaton Lake mine in the early 80s with the opening of the Cullaton Lake Gold Mine, west of Eskimo Point, NWT (known today as Arviat, Nunavut). Calm Air acquired two DC-4 aircraft to meet the year-round demand for cargo and fuel transportation from Churchill to the mine. While the mine did close in 1985, its operation was a significant factor in Calm Air’s growth during that period. A second HS748 aircraft was added to the fleet in 1983.
Connecting North & South
During this time, Calm Air was the first carrier to sign a joint scheduling and marketing agreement with Pacific Western Airlines, under the “Pacific Western Spirit” commuter program. Commencing service to Winnipeg enabled the carrier to offer enhanced frequencies and connections between the Keewatin, Northern Manitoba and the south. In 1987, as a full-service partner with the newly-formed Canadian Airlines, Calm Air was able to offer a sophisticated reservation system and access to the global community. Additions to the fleet of more Hawker Siddeley 748 and Navajo Chieftain aircraft were made to meet the ever-increasing passenger and cargo needs in the both the Keewatin and Northern Manitoba.
The purchase of the Swedish-built Saab 340B Plus aircraft in 1994 brought modern luxury to Calm Air fleet, with its inaugural service taking flight on January 15, 1995 between Winnipeg, The Pas, Flin Flon and Thompson. Calm Air was the first Canadian carrier to operate this new 34-seat aircraft type, and the first carrier In North America to operate the upgraded B Plus model. The late 1990s saw Calm Air venturing into new territories of Northern Ontario and Saskatchewan, for which more SAAB aircraft were added to the fleet. While the added service into Dryden-Thunder Bay and Regina-Saskatoon was no longer required by 2001, Calm Air was able to re-deploy the additional aircraft to bring increased and improved service to the many communities in Manitoba and Nunavut it served. By 2004, Calm Air had completed its second Big Door conversion of the HS748 aircraft, now operating two of only three big doors in North America. The large freight door 5’7” x 8’9” allows for the shipping of large oversized cargo, a much needed service for the area. Again recognizing the needs of the area, Calm Air completed a SAAB 340B Plus modification to double the baggage and cargo capacity of the aircraft. This customized 25-seat aircraft is the first of its kind for SAAB and has been in service in the Nunavut area since January 2006.
A New Era
On April 8th, 2009 Calm Air was purchased by the Exchange Industrial Income Fund (EIIF), now Exchange Income Corporation (EIC).
Exchange Income Corporation specializes in aviation services & aerospace and manufacturing - specifically airlines that are essential air services – subsidiaries that provide essential services; including medevac, passenger, charter, and freight services to Canada’s most northern and remote communities.
Former VP of Business Development with EIC, Gary Bell was elected as the incoming CEO for Calm Air. Part of Gary’s mandate was to expand services in the North.
Part of that was implementing a full fleet of ATR’s - an aircraft that is said to be the best aircraft with turboprop engines - with more capabilities in terms of operating on challenging runways or in remote communities. ATR’s are excellent in adverse weather conditions – using less fuel and emitting less CO2.
Over the years, Calm Air updated its fleet. By 2016, Mr. Bell along with the team at Calm Air accomplished just that – Calm Air had substituted its outdated aircraft to a fleet of ATR 72’s & 42’s - configurable for passengers, for cargo or a combination of both.
In 2015, Calm Air entered into a commercial agreement, securing the passenger and freight business of the entire Kivalliq region of Nunavut. Calm Air established a “Hub and Spoke” type of operation out of Rankin Inlet, Nunavut, connecting arctic communities to many services in Winnipeg with twice-a-day frequency. This operation is supported with a fully equipped maintenance base, crew residence, and cargo and ground handling staff.
Since then, Calm Air has expanded its services to over twenty-two communities in Manitoba and the Kivalliq region of Nunavut – with service to Arviat, Baker Lake, Chesterfield Inlet, Churchill, Coral Harbour, Flin Flon, Gillam, Naujaat, Rankin Inlet, Sanikiluaq, The Pas, Thompson, Winnipeg and Whale Cove.
Today, Calm Air owns nine (9) ATR72’s and five (5) ATR42’s and Wet-Leases one 737-400 with service between Winnipeg and Rankin Inlet.
Calm Air continues to transition its ATRs from the 202 and 300 models over to the 500 model that provides a quieter experience for customers, updated technology, higher lift capabilities, and increased payloads. Calm Air hopes to one day operate its own 737s.
For further information visit Exchange Income Corporation (EIC).