Ten years ago today, at 10am PST, an Air North, Yukon's Airline Boeing 737 took off for the first time from the Erik Nielsen Whitehorse International Airport, en route to the Calgary International and Edmonton International airports - marking the first time the Yukon had seen direct scheduled service to Alberta since the early-1990s.
Two days later, on June 9, 2002, Air North's first Boeing 737 flight to Vancouver departed.
Not only did both of these flights mark a major milestone in Air North's history, they represented the first time a Yukon-based airline had ever offered scheduled service south of the Yukon.
"With over 12 million miles flown and more than 940,000 passengers carried in the ten years we've provided Yukon's own jet service to Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton - we've accomplished more than we ever thought possible," said Joe Sparling, Air North's President.
In 2001 more than 600 Yukoners signed up as shareholders in Air North, helping raise funds for the carrier which was aiming to go up against a competitor several hundred times its size. At the time, Air North had 36 employees. Today, Air North employs more than 270 people, with over 190 based at its headquarters in Whitehorse alone - and has over 1,500 shareholders including Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation beneficiaries.
"We've also innovated new products for Yukoners and our friends and families to the south, such as our air passes, getaway packages and limited edition charters to Las Vegas, Victoria and Kelowna," Sparling added. "But I am most proud of our employees. In the end, it is they who make the difference to our customers and our success."
In celebration of the 10th anniversary of jet service, Air North is working hard to make sure that the in-flight experience is unparalled by any other carrier in our market, in large part thanks to the Whitehorse-based Flight Kitchen - responsible for the treats including the famous homemade cheesecake and warm cookies. Air North is also giving the flight attendants a fresh, new look beginning this month with a uniform custom designed in the Yukon and inspired by our home.