Whitehorse, Yukon - April 10, 2015 - Air North, Yukon's Airline today announced the retirement of C-FJLB, the first of its two Boeing 737-200s. The aircraft is expected to land in Whitehorse shortly after 2:30pm Friday following a ferry flight from Vancouver.
JLB was flown for the first time to Whitehorse on May 30, 2002, by Captain Dan Quaile, who is currently Air North's chief pilot, along with Captain Dan Kenny. Days later, on Thursday June 6th, JLB flew Air North's inaugural jet service from Whitehorse to Calgary and Edmonton. This also marked the first time that the Yukon and Alberta were connected by jet service in a number of years.
"I remember the pride and exhilaration from everyone who witnessed JLB's arrival in Whitehorse," said Joe Sparling, Air North's president and one of its Boeing 737 captains. "It was a transformative moment for Air North, and is when we began our growth from 30 employees to our now almost 600. The aircraft symbolized new opportunities when we first acquired it and, in its retirement, ushers in a new era for the airline."
The aircraft was the first of two purchased in 2002—thanks to the support of Yukon shareholders and the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation—and would be instrumental in the growth of the airline beyond the Yukon territory, and reducing airfares paid by Yukoners to fly in or out of the territory by 60 percent.
This in turn has produced a significant boost in traffic between the Yukon and its gateway cities, with passenger numbers traveling through the Erik Nielsen Whitehorse International Airport having doubled in number—in step with Air North's growth.
Over its almost 13-year career with Air North, JLB flew the equivalent of the distance between the Earth and the Moon a stunning 34 times, and welcomed a large number of the airline's 1.6 million Boeing 737 passengers.
"The Vuntut Gwitchin invested in Air North a few short years before the purchase of the jet fleet," said Pauline Frost, president of the Vuntut Gwitchin Partnership. "It's been almost 14 years since we invested, and we are pleased by Air North's growth and the tremendous effect that it's had upon the Yukon and the people of the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation."
Tying JLB's first and final flights in to Whitehorse together is Captain Dan Kenny, who is piloting the aircraft's flight home along with Captain Dan Tonner.
"I would like to take a moment to thank our staff," said Sparling. "It's with great pride that they, along with our shareholders and stakeholders, have helped build the airline. This is a milestone for our company, and a great achievement for our team."
Air North's current fleet is composed of modern, fuel-efficient Boeing 737-400 and 737-500 aircraft, as well as Hawker Siddeley 748 turboprops. In addition, the airline retains one Boeing 737-200 Combi, the only jet in the fleet that features a large cargo door and is capable of landing on gravel runways.