UPDATE: Orca Airways grounded due to safety issues

Merger with Integra Air results in loss of operator’s certificate

Transport Canada has suspended the air operator certificate of Orca Airways for “repeated non-compliance with aviation safety regulations,” effective March 15, 2018.

But the company’s chief operating officer says the suspension is primarily the result of mis-timing of the company’s recent merger with Calgary-based Integra Air Group, and at least some flights are planned to resume as soon at this weekend.

“For financial reasons, the two companies merged together, and the Orca management team was phased out,” said Andrew Naysmith, former president of Orca Airways and now COO of Integra Air Group’s Orca Airways division. “You can’t operate on a certificate if you don’t have a management team. We didn’t quite time it the way we wanted to time it.”

Naysmith told the Parksville Qualicum Beach News that Orca Airways flights are scheduled to resume at Qualicum Beach Airport Saturday, March 17, flying under Integra Air’s operating certificate.

“We actually implemented this merger seven or eight weeks ago with Integra,” Naysmith said. “We’ve been flying to Tofino for two months on (Integra’s) certificate.”

In an written news release, Integra Air CEO John Macek confirmed the merger of the companies, and said, “Integra Air is currently in the process of negotiating aircraft, crews and management to support Orca Airways and prevent any further interruption to Orca passengers and customers.”

The airline, which operates daily flights from Vancouver, Victoria, Parksville, Tofino, Ucluelet, and Qualicum Beach, is frequently used by major resorts and lodges in Tofino and Ucluelet.

In a statement, Transport Canada said they found several areas of non-compliance, “including maintenance, operational control, documentation, and quality assurance.” Flights are suspended until the airline comes into compliance.

“Orca’s Air Operator’s Certificate was always planned to be phased out as operations moved to Integra Air,” Macek stated in the company’s release. “The suspension of their AOC by Transport Canada-Pacific Region, although untimely, should have only a short-term, minor impact on our ability to provide Orca’s existing customers and passengers the level of safety, reliability and outstanding customer service they deserve.”

Contacted by Black Press with a request for details of the reasons for the suspension of Orca Airways’ operating certificate, Transport Canada spokesperson Marie-Anyk Côté said in an email reply, “Transport Canada is not in a position to release details of the contraventions due to privacy reasons.”

This story will be updated as additional information becomes available.

— With files from J.R. Rardon

Just Posted

MLA Stilwell chairing B.C. Liberals’ new affordability committee

Opposition thinking about election readiness

B.C. Lions star helps Nanaimo players hone their game

Emmanuel Arceneaux was guest coach at the Jay Prepchuk football camp Sunday at John Barsby Secondary

Nanaimo projects cited for excellence in building awards

Several projects score with judges in 2017 VIREB Commercial Building Awards.

School district considers new position, drug concerns raised

Assistant superintendent confirms spike in use of a Xanax-like drug in schools earlier this year

UPDATED: Nanaimo man dies after highway crash in Nanoose Bay Friday afternoon

Accident happened just before 4 p.m. near Hillview Road.

REPLAY: B.C. this week in video

In case you missed it, here’s a look at replay-worthy highlights from across the province this week

Dix says B.C. remains focused on fighting youth overdoses in wake of teen’s death

Elliot Eurchuk’s parents say he died at his Oak Bay home after taking street drugs

United wins in OT, advances in provincial cup play

Nanaimo beats Lakehill 2-1, next up is a matchup against Cowichan

Final week for ALR input

Public consultation process closes April 30

‘When everybody leaves: Counselling key to help Humboldt move on after bus crash

Dealing with life after a tragedy can be the worst part following a loss

Local astronomer to share knowledge about planetary nebulae

Local astronomer explains our sun will one day eject its outer layers to form a planetary nebula

Half-naked shooter guns down four, runs away in Nashville Waffle House shooting

Nashville police say they are looking for Travis Reinking in connection with the shooting

Child’s body found in river downstream from where boy went missing during flood

Three-year-old Kaden Young was swept out of his mother’s arms in February

B.C. VIEWS: Eliminating efficiency for farm workers

Don’t worry, NDP says, the B.C. economy’s booming

Most Read