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Buffalo Airways still grounded
No change in suspension by Transport Canada

Paul Bickford
Northern News Services
Monday, December 21, 2015

More than two weeks later, Buffalo Airways' fleet remains grounded by Transport Canada.

"As of December 16, 2015, Buffalo Airways' Air Operator Certificate remains suspended," stated Amber Wonko, Transport Canada spokesperson in Winnipeg, when responding to e-mailed questions. "Transport Canada continues to work with Buffalo Airways in view to addressing the safety concerns identified."

The federal department had suspended Buffalo's certificate - effective 11:59 p.m. on Nov. 30 - for what it called a "poor safety record."

The move prohibits the company from providing commercial air services.

That means the airline cannot offer its scheduled flights between Hay River and Yellowknife, although it chartered aircraft to support those passenger service flights, as well as deliver groceries, cargo and holiday supplies to Deline, Tulita and Norman Wells.

Wonko declined to offer an estimate of when that might happen in a previous e-mail exchange earlier in the month.

On Dec. 17, Buffalo Airways spokesperson Kristine Cook said the company was waiting for more information from Transport Canada before it would issue another statement or news release.

"Buffalo Airways is working with Transport Canada to resolve the issues in dispute and to lift the suspension as soon as possible," reads a previous statement from the company. "Buffalo Airways anticipates that the suspension period will be short."

Buffalo Airways is known internationally because of the reality TV show Ice Pilots NWT, which focused on its use of DC-3 and DC-4 aircraft for its passenger and cargo flights.

Following Buffalo Airways' accident at the Yellowknife Airport on Aug. 19, 2013, Transport Canada conducted several oversight activities to verify whether the company was operating safely and deficiencies were identified in the company's operational and maintenance control systems in October of this year.

Buffalo Airways has the right to appeal the suspension by Transport Canada. It has until Dec. 30 to request a review from the Transportation Appeal Tribunal of Canada.As for which other territorial airliners have been contracted for cargo, charter or schedule passenger services, Norman Wells-based North-Wright Airways said it had not received any additional business due to Buffalo's suspension.

Air Tindi president Al Martin told News/North he could not confirm or deny his company had been hired by Buffalo.

"We do charters for lots of people and I wouldn't generally discuss the details of those charters unless the customer is happy with that," he said. "I just can't answer because it's the charter of a private customer you're asking about."

Representatives from Summit Air did not respond to an interview request.

-with files from Karen Ho

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