Bearskin Lake Air Services Ltd., trading as Bearskin Airlines, is a regional airline based in Sioux Lookout, Ontario, Canada. It operates services in northern Ontario and Manitoba. Its main bases are Sioux Lookout Airport (YXL) and Thunder Bay International Airport (YQT), with a hub at Greater Sudbury Airport (YSB). In 2010 it was sold to Exchange Industrial Corporation (EIC) for $32 million. EIC also owns Calm Air, Perimeter Aviation, and Keewatin Air.
The airline was established in 1963 by bush pilot Otto John Heglund – who named it after Bearskin Lake, a remote First Nations community located 270 miles northeast of Sioux Lookout. It started operations in July 1963 from its base at Big Trout Lake, Ontario. It started out by providing only charter services to the remote First Nations reserves in northern Ontario, using bush planes equipped with floats in the summer and skis in the winter. Henri Boulanger and Bert Cone took over the company in 1965 and operated it as an air taxi service using float equipped aircraft. In 1977, they began their first regular scheduled flights between Big Trout
Lake and Sioux Lookout. This year, Boulanger"s shares were bought out, giving the current President control of the company.
From then on, other scheduled flights were progressively added, first to Thunder Bay, followed by Kenora and Winnipeg. This was also the period when the Government of Ontario began constructing new airfields that would make the northern communities accessible year-round. Therefore in the late 1970s to the early 1980s, Bearskin made the transition of bush planes to wheeled commuter planes. Throughout the 80"s and early 90"s Bearskin continued to expand and enhance it"s service to many Northwestern Ontario cities, providing connections to Air Canada in Thunder Bay and Winnipeg.
Following the collapse of NorOntair in 1996, Bearskin picked up over two thirds of that carrier"s routes, thereby adding scheduled service to all the major northern Ontario cities. Three years later, it expanded operations to destinations in northern Manitoba. In 2003, it sold their routes and assets servicing northern First Nations communities to Wasaya Airways. This marked as a break with their bush flying background to focus on becoming a regional carrier.
Bearskin Airlines operates services to the following Canadian domestic scheduled destinations: Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec.
The Bearskin Airlines fleet includes the following aircrafts: 1 Cessna 180, 1 Cessna 185, 14 Fairchild Swearingen Metroliner and 1 Piper Aztec.
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Bearskin Airlines Route