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

Port Alberni RCMP recover stolen tool chest

Police still searching for the rightful owner

Kuu-us Crisis Service celebrates 25th anniversary

Port Alberni-based business sets sights on national realm

Vehicle fire extinguished near Cathedral Grove

Fire shut down Highway 4 in both directions

McLean Mill’s steam engine done for the season

McLean Mill Society to consult with community about future of steam

Great Central Lake resort owners jump in to fight nearby wildfire

Marleys put repurposed firetruck to good use during B.C. Day fire

Average Canadian family spends 43% of income on taxes: study

Fraser Institute’s consumer report shows taxes accounting for larger chunk of income each year

RCMP to search for body after man drowns in B.C.’s Buntzen Lake

Officers and fire crews responded but the man from the Lower Mainland is believed to have drowned.

Police chiefs call for stricter controls on pill presses to fight opioids

Canada’s police chiefs are urging Ottawa to beef up its fight against the opioid scourge by closely vetting people who import pill presses

Victoria police say explicit calls continue to target women

Over 50 reports of unwanted, sexually explicit calls have come in

Four-hour ferry delay on Buckley Bay-Denman Island route

BC Ferries reported the cable ferry is experiencing issues with the head shieve.

‘It’s like a party in your mouth’

B.C. creator’s Milkshake Burger makes its debut at the PNE

Vehicle catches fire near Vancouver Island provincial park

Fire shut down Highway 4 in both directions

Most Read