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

Ferry service increase to Nanaimo lauded by Gabriola Islanders

Gabriola Ferry Advisory Committee to work with B.C. Ferries, says committee chairman

Nanaimo Astronomy Society to host Vancouver Island’s first AstroFest

AstroFest will showcase Island’s amateur and professional astronomical groups and activities

Nanaimo Sport Achievement Awards announce winners

VIU women’s volleyball is Team of the Year, Presidents Cup lacrosse is Sports Story of the Year

Nanaimo community policing volunteer recognized for decades of service

Don Willett presented commanding officer’s certificate for 25 years of volunteer service

Vehicle smashes through front of furniture store in Nanaimo

No injuries reported in Friday afternoon incident on Mostar Road

Poutine, sweet treats tantalize taste buds at Maple Sugar Festival in Nanaimo

L’Association des Francophones de Nanaimo hold festival at Beban Park this weekend

Vancouver Island Brewing puts Nanaimo bar on tap

Beer based on signature Nanaimo dessert flying off liquor retailers’ shelves

Pink Shirt Day a reminder to ‘T.H.I.N.K.’ before posting on social media

‘Be Kind’ message on shirts sold for anti-bullying activities of Wednesday, Feb. 27

A ‘warm embrace’ for grieving parents at funeral of seven young fire victims

Mourners offered love and support to Kawthar Barho, mother of seven children

Indigenous leaders, politicians say Trans Mountain report flawed

The National Energy Board has endorsed an expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline a second time

B.C. man creates Indigenous colouring book for children

Leon McFadden is working on 11 more books to finish the horoscope series

City of Nanaimo issues building permit for Gordon Street hotel

Ground-breaking for $21-million project anticipated this spring

High school students converge on Nanaimo for Skills Canada competition

Winners will head to provincial event in Abbotsford later this year

Realtors hope that their help can make miracles happen for sick kids

Re/Max of Nanaimo donates $86,000 to Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals

Most Read