Bradley Air Services Limited, operating as First Air, was an airline headquartered in Kanata, a suburb of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.[6] It operated services to 34 communities in Nunavut, Nunavik, and the Northwest Territories.[5] First Air has assisted in various humanitarian missions such as the 2010 Haiti earthquake, airlifting relief supplies and equipment.[8] Its main base, which included a large hangar, cargo and maintenance facility, was located at Ottawa Macdonald–Cartier International Airport, with hubs at Iqaluit Airport, and Yellowknife Airport.[9] On November 1, 2019, the airline consolidated operations with Canadian North.[10]

First Air
First Air logo (2017).svg
C-FTIQ First Air ATR42-500 at Cambridge Bay Airport.jpg
IATA ICAO Callsign
AOC #Canada: 107[2]
United States: KBJF476F[3]
HubsYellowknife Airport,
Iqaluit Airport
Rankin Inlet Airport
Frequent-flyer programAeroplan
Fleet size31[4]
Headquarters20 Cope Drive, Kanata, Ontario[6]
Key peopleChris Avery President & CEO
Alexandra Pontbriand VP Finance
Rashwan Domloge VP Maintenance
Aaron Speer
VP Flight Operations
Andrew Pope
VP Commercial[7] (redirects to Canadian North)
Previous logo
First Air headquarters in Kanata, Ontario, Canada


The airline was founded by Canadian aviation pioneer Russel (Russ) Bradley and started operations as Bradley Air Services in 1946 and is still registered under that name. First Air started scheduled operations in 1973, between Ottawa and North Bay. This service was operated with an eight-seat passenger plane.

The airline opened southern gateways at Edmonton, Winnipeg, Montreal and Ottawa. Through Kuujjuaq in Nunavik and Yellowknife in the Northwest Territories (NWT), the airline provides services to 26 Inuit communities in Nunavut, Nunavik and the NWT.[5] Service to Sanikiluaq, Nunavut is provided in partnership with Air Inuit.

In 1995, First Air acquired Ptarmigan Airways, and in 1997 Northwest Territorial Airways (also known as NWT Air), both merged into First Air.[11] Ptarmigan Airways operated smaller turboprop aircraft types such as the Beechcraft King Air (BE-200 model), DHC-6 Twin Otter and Grumman Gulfstream I turboprops, and a single Cessna Citation II business jet aircraft. At the time of the merger NWT Air operated Boeing 737-200 jetliners and a single Lockheed L-100 Hercules cargo turboprop.

First Air was wholly owned by the Inuit of Quebec through the Makivik Corporation, which purchased the company in 1990.[12][13]

On 21 August 2008, First Air fired president Bob Davis and replaced him with Scott Bateman. Davis had been president since December 1997 and had several disagreements with First Air over a period of time.[14]

On 5 June 2009, First Air received a wide-body aircraft, a Boeing 767-223 SF (Super Freighter), which was under a three-year dry lease from Cargo Aircraft Management (CAM), a subsidiary of Air Transport Services Group (ATSG).[15] The 767 has since left the fleet.

After the introduction of the operationally and logistically more economical Boeing 767-223SF in March 2010, First Air retired and removed its two Boeing 727-233 aircraft from its fleet. One was one of only two combi types in the world, and the last 727-200 in North America on scheduled passenger-freight services. The other 727-233F full freighter has also been phased out. A Hawker Siddeley HS 748 turboprop (C-GFNW) was retired in March 2011. Replacing this aircraft type are two ATR 72 Combi turboprops as part of First Air's fleet replacement program. They are outfitted with a cargo handling system, and one is outfitted with a large cargo door. A first of its kind in North America, it is able to handle built Unit Load Device positions. This in turn will create a larger load capacity and flexibility reaching remote communities. One began service in the last quarter of 2011, and the second in the first quarter 2012.[needs update][citation needed]

In February 2011, First Air and Qikiqtaaluk Corporation (QC) started a new airline named Qikiqtani First Aviation.[16] The new company provides services throughout Nunavut's Qikiqtani Region using First Air's fleet.[17] Another airline, Sakku First Aviation, was started the same time in partnership with Sakku Investments Corporation in Nunavut's Kivalliq Region.[18]

In December 2011, Scott Bateman, President and CEO, abruptly resigned his position with First Air.[19] Kris Dolinki became president and CEO after Bateman's departure.[7]

In October 2012, Dolinki resigned his position as president and CEO of First Air. This announcement came shortly after Makivik Corporation stated that, after many rumours, its stake in First Air was not for sale. The position of President and CEO was filled on an interim basis by Chris Ferris, First Air's Vice President of Marketing & Sales.[20]

In March 2013, First Air/Makivik Corporation announced it had hired Brock Friesen as its new president and CEO.[21]

On 11 April 2014, the Makivik Corporation and Norterra, owners of Canadian North, announced that they were in negotiations to merge the two airlines.[22][23] According to a website set up the same day the new airline would be owned equally between the two companies and "a merger would create a stronger, more sustainable business, provide better service to customers and lead to new economic development opportunities across the North - "We believe the two companies would complement each other’s strengths."[24] In October 2014, it was announced the merger would not go through,[25] but First Air would still codeshare some flights with Canadian North.

In early 2015 First Air announced strategic agreements with Cargojet Airways and Summit Air. The 767 lease was transferred to Cargojet at that time and First Air is now providing ATR Turboprop services to Cargojet.

On 21 April 2015, First Air Hercules C-GUSI flew the final civilian L382 flight in Canada, bringing to an end over 45 years of commercial Lockheed Hercules service. L382 Hercules operations in Northern Canada were begun during the 1960s by Pacific Western Airlines.

In 2016, First Air/Bradley Air Services became the oldest airline in Canada still operating under its original name.

On 28 September 2018, Makivik Corporation and the Inuvialuit Corporate Group (ICG) signed a definitive agreement to merge Canadian North and First Air, awaiting government approval. The new airline would use the new First Air livery, but would operate under the name "Canadian North".[26] On 19 June 2019, the federal government gave approval to the merger provided several terms and conditions were met.[27]

On 1 November 2019, First Air and Canadian North completed the merger and combined schedules. Operations are now under the Canadian North name using the First Air branding.[28] However, full integration was expected to take 12 to 18 months.[29]


ATR 42 at Cambridge Bay Airport, older livery
First Air Boeing 767 at Val-d'Or Airport, Quebec
First Air L-382G
Summit Air Avro RJ85 operating for First Air
First Air ATR-42 cabin

First Air operates scheduled services to these domestic destinations in Canada:[5]

City Province IATA ICAO Airport Notes
Arctic Bay Nunavut YAB CYAB Arctic Bay Airport
Arviat Nunavut YEK CYEK Arviat Airport Codeshare with Calm Air
Baker Lake Nunavut YBK CYBK Baker Lake Airport Codeshare with Calm Air
Cambridge Bay Nunavut YCB CYCB Cambridge Bay Airport
Cape Dorset Nunavut YTE CYTE Cape Dorset Airport
Chesterfield Inlet Nunavut YCS CYCS Chesterfield Inlet Airport Codeshare with Calm Air
Churchill Manitoba YYQ CYYQ Churchill Airport Codeshare with Calm Air
Clyde River Nunavut YCY CYCY Clyde River Airport
Coral Harbour Nunavut YZS CYZS Coral Harbour Airport Codeshare with Calm Air
Edmonton Alberta YEG CYEG Edmonton International Airport
Fort Simpson Northwest Territories YFS CYFS Fort Simpson Airport
Gjoa Haven Nunavut YHK CYHK Gjoa Haven Airport
Hall Beach Nunavut YUX CYUX Hall Beach Airport
Hay River Northwest Territories YHY CYHY Hay River/Merlyn Carter Airport
Igloolik Nunavut YGT CYGT Igloolik Airport
Inuvik Northwest Territories YEV CYEV Inuvik (Mike Zubko) Airport
Iqaluit Nunavut YFB CYFB Iqaluit Airport Hub
Kimmirut Nunavut YLC CYLC Kimmirut Airport
Kugaaruk Nunavut YBB CYBB Kugaaruk Airport
Kugluktuk Nunavut YCO CYCO Kugluktuk Airport
Kuujjuaq Quebec YVP CYVP Kuujjuaq Airport
Montréal Quebec YUL CYUL Montréal–Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport
Naujaat Nunavut YUT CYUT Naujaat Airport Codeshare with Calm Air
Ottawa Ontario YOW CYOW Ottawa Macdonald–Cartier International Airport Cargo Hub/ Maintenance Base
Pangnirtung Nunavut YXP CYXP Pangnirtung Airport
Pond Inlet Nunavut YIO CYIO Pond Inlet Airport
Qikiqtarjuaq Nunavut YVM CYVM Qikiqtarjuaq Airport
Rankin Inlet Nunavut YRT CYRT Rankin Inlet Airport Hub
Resolute Nunavut YRB CYRB Resolute Bay Airport
Taloyoak Nunavut YYH CYYH Taloyoak Airport
Ulukhaktok Northwest Territories YHI CYHI Ulukhaktok/Holman Airport
Whale Cove Nunavut YXN CYXN Whale Cove Airport Codeshare with Calm Air
Whitehorse Yukon YXY CYXY Erik Nielsen Whitehorse International Airport Codeshare with Air North
Winnipeg Manitoba YWG CYWG Winnipeg James Armstrong Richardson International Airport Codeshare with Calm Air
Yellowknife Northwest Territories YZF CYZF Yellowknife Airport Hub

According to the Official Airline Guide (OAG), First Air operated scheduled passenger service from the mid-1980s to the early 1990s nonstop between Ottawa (YOW) and Boston (BOS) primarily with Hawker Siddeley HS 748 turboprops but also with Boeing 727-100 Combi jetliners as well.[30] This was the only scheduled passenger service ever operated to the U.S. by First Air.

Codeshare agreementsEdit

First Air has codeshare agreements with the following airlines:


As of January 2022, Bradley Air Services had 31 aircraft registered with Transport Canada. All aircraft are operated as Canadian North[4]

Aircraft typesEdit

Retired fleetEdit

First Air previously operated the following aircraft types:[36]

Accidents and incidentsEdit

Five of ten incidents had fatalities.

  • 28 January 1974, a Douglas C-47B CF-TVK, a de Havilland Canada DHC-6 CF-DIJ, and de Havilland Canada DHC-3 CF-OHD of Bradley Air Services were destroyed in a hangar fire at Carp Airport, Ottawa.[37][38][39]
  • 23 August 1978, a de Havilland Canada DHC-6 C-FQDG of Bradley Air Services was destroyed on final approach to Frobisher Bay (now Iqaluit), Northwest Territories.[40] One of two crew died and all four passengers survived.[41]
  • 29 August 1979, a de Havilland Canada DHC-6 C-GROW of Bradley Air Services was destroyed when plane crash on approach and short of the runway at Frobisher Bay (now Iqaluit), Northwest Territories.[42] Two crew and seven passengers perished in crash.[43]
  • 15 March 1981, a de Havilland Canada DHC-6 C-FDHT of Bradley Air Services sunk through polar ice near Nord, Greenland.[44]
  • 15 September 1988, a Hawker Siddeley HS 748 C-GFFA of Bradley Air Services was destroyed in a crash near Hammond, Ontario as it was approaching into Ottawa International Airport.[45] Both crew onboard perished.[46]
  • 12 January 1989, a Hawker Siddeley HS 748 C-GDOV of Bradley Air Services was destroyed in a crash near Dayton, Ohio killing both crew members.[47]
  • 12 August 1996, a de Havilland Canada DHC-6 C-GNDN of First Air was destroyed near Markham Bay, Northwest Territories.[48] Both crew members perished.[49]
  • 3 December 1998, a Hawker Siddeley HS 748 C-FBNW of Bradley Air Services was damaged beyond repair while attempting take-off at Iqaluit, Northwest Territories.[50] Crew of four and three passengers survived.[51]
  • 22 May 2001, a Boeing 737-210C C-GNWI of First Air was damaged beyond repair after landing in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories.[52] All 98 passenger and 6 crew survived.[53]
  • 20 August 2011, Flight 6560, a First Air Boeing 737-210C (C-GNWN)[54] flying a charter flight crashed en route from Yellowknife on final approach to Resolute, killing 12 and injuring 3 others.[55]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Transport Canada – Air Traffic Designators – TP 143" (PDF). Retrieved 2 January 2018.
  2. ^ Transport Canada (2019-08-30), Civil Aviation Services (CAS) AOC.
  3. ^ "Federal Aviation Administration - Airline Certificate Information - Detail View". Retrieved 27 June 2019.
  4. ^ a b "Canadian Civil Aircraft Register: Quick Search Result for Bradley Air Services (First Air)". Transport Canada. Retrieved 10 January 2022.
  5. ^ a b c d e "Route Map – First Air – 1 800 267 1247". Archived from the original on 3 June 2015. Retrieved 2 January 2018.
  6. ^ a b "First Air Head Office." First Air. Retrieved on 13 January 2012. "20 Cope Drive Kanata, Ontario Canada, K2M 2V8"
  7. ^ a b "Officers". Retrieved 10 January 2013.
  8. ^ "Northern airline sends planes to Haiti". 14 January 2010. Retrieved 10 January 2013.
  9. ^ "Directory: World Airlines". Flight International. 3 April 2007. p. 82.
  10. ^ "Our history". 14 January 2010. Retrieved 30 January 2020.
  11. ^ "Milestones". Retrieved 10 January 2013.
  12. ^ "First Air". Archived from the original on 24 April 2013. Retrieved 10 January 2013.
  13. ^ "Ownership". Retrieved 10 January 2013.
  14. ^ "First Air fires president Davis". 22 August 2008. Retrieved 10 January 2013.
  15. ^ "Transport Services Group to Lease 767 to First Air". 6 March 2009. Archived from the original on 5 March 2016. Retrieved 10 January 2013.
  16. ^ "Qikiqtani First Aviation Ltd". Retrieved 10 January 2013.
  17. ^ "Qikiqtaaluk Corporation and First Air sign new airline joint venture agreement". 17 February 2011. Retrieved 10 January 2013.
  18. ^ "Sakku First Aviation Ltd". Retrieved 10 January 2013.
  19. ^ "First Air's president resigns 14 Dec". 14 December 2011. Retrieved 10 January 2013.
  20. ^ CT (4 October 2012). "First Air not for sale, says Makivik Corp. – North – CBC News". Retrieved 10 January 2013.
  21. ^ "First Air gets a new boss. – North". Nunatsiaq News. 25 March 2013. Retrieved 25 March 2013.
  22. ^ "Canadian North, First Air plan 'merger of equals'". Retrieved 2 January 2018.
  23. ^ "NunatsiaqOnline 2014-04-11: NEWS: Arctic airlines First Air and Canadian North talk merger". 12 April 2014. Retrieved 2 January 2018.
  24. ^ "Nectar Sleep Mattress & Test Clear - Sleeping & Testing Coupons". Retrieved 2 January 2018.
  25. ^ "NunatsiaqOnline 2014-10-23: NEWS: Airlines announce First Air-Canadian North merger is dead". 24 October 2014. Retrieved 2 January 2018.
  26. ^ Group, Inuvialuit Corporate. "New milestone agreement reached to merge First Air and Canadian North to better serve Pan-Arctic communities".
  27. ^ Federal government approves Canadian North and First Air merger
  28. ^ Our History
  29. ^ Welcome aboard your NEW Canadian North
  30. ^, 15 February 1985; 15 December 1989; 1 October 1991 editions, Official Airline Guide (OAG), Boston-Ottawa schedules
  31. ^ JL (4 May 2012). "First Air and Air Greenland Begin Codeshare". Retrieved 10 January 2013.
  32. ^ "NunatsiaqOnline 2016-05-11: NEWS: First Air, Air North strike codeshare deal for Ottawa, Yellowknife, Whitehorse". 11 May 2016. Retrieved 2 January 2018.
  33. ^ "Codeshare Agreement". Retrieved 2 January 2018.
  34. ^ "NunatsiaqOnline 2015-07-28: NEWS: Canadian North, First Air carry out codeshare pact in Nunavut this week". 28 July 2015. Retrieved 2 January 2018.
  35. ^ "NunatsiaqOnline 2016-11-18: NEWS: Codeshare kaput: First Air ends flight sharing deal with Canadian North". 18 November 2016. Retrieved 2 January 2018.
  36. ^ Canadian Civil Aircraft Register: History Search Result
  37. ^ Accident description for CF-OHD at the Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved on 15 February 2016.
  38. ^ Accident description for CF-TVK at the Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved on 15 February 2016.
  39. ^ "Otter of the Week". Fly the Bush. Retrieved 21 March 2011.
  40. ^ Accident description for C-FQDG at the Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved on 15 February 2016.
  41. ^ "ASN Aircraft accident de Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter 300 C-FQDG Frobisher Bay Airport, NU (YFB)".
  42. ^ Accident description for C-GROW at the Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved on 15 February 2016.
  43. ^ "ASN Aircraft accident de Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter 300 C-GROW Frobisher Bay Airport, NU (YFB)".
  44. ^ Accident description for C-FDHT at the Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved on 15 February 2016.
  45. ^ Accident description for C-GFFA at the Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved on 15 February 2016.
  46. ^ "ASN Aircraft accident British Aerospace BAe-748-FAA SRS. 2B C-GFFA Cheney, ON".
  47. ^ Accident description for C-GDOV at the Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved on 15 February 2016.
  48. ^ Accident description for C-GNDN at the Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved on 15 February 2016.
  49. ^ "Aviation Investigation Report A96Q0126 - Transportation Safety Board of Canada". 30 April 1998.
  50. ^ Accident description for C-FBNW at the Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved on 15 February 2016.
  51. ^ "ASN Aircraft accident British Aerospace BAe-748-335 SRS. 2A SCD C-FBNW Iqaluit Airport, NU (YFB)".
  52. ^ Accident description for C-GNWI at the Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved on 15 February 2016.
  53. ^ "ASN Aircraft accident Boeing 737-210C C-GNWI Yellowknife Airport, NT (YZF)".
  54. ^ "First Air 737 Crashes in Northern Canada, Killing 12 - NYCAviation". 20 August 2011. Retrieved 2 January 2018.
  55. ^ "Plane crash near Resolute Bay kills 12". Retrieved 2 January 2018.

External linksEdit