Marco Prud’Homme, President, NOLINOR AVIATION
“Nolinor offers full circle services to mining clients. We will transport fuel to the mining site during the exploration stage, and once the project reaches maturity and construction starts, we have bigger aircrafts to meet increased cargo and passenger requirements.”
How have the past few years been for Nolinor Aviation (Nolinor)?
The mining industry was seen as essential throughout the pandemic, and Nolinor was lucky enough to be one of the few airlines to service the industry. This gave us the opportunity to keep most of our staff working, which is a big positive regarding safety.
For Nolinor, the past two years have been quite stable, and the company was able to add three 737-400 and one 737-800 aircraft to its fleet. 737-200 aircrafts are usually used for our mining clients given their smaller size and ability to land on gravel, but some mining companies now have access to paved runways which allows us to utilize the 737-400 aircraft that has more capacity. With our fleet, if there is a last-minute demand or a mining site has to be evacuated quickly, we have the capacity to assist customers.
What is the range of aircraft within Nolinor’s fleet?
Nolinor offers full circle services to mining clients. We will transport fuel to the mining site during the exploration stage, and once the project reaches maturity and construction starts, we have bigger aircrafts to meet increased cargo and passenger requirements. We also purchased shares in a smaller carrier, Corpo Aviation, whch has a PC-12 aircraft and two Beechcraft 1900s in their fleet that can accommodate 8 to 12 passengers. Having a smaller carrier option for clients complements the services we already offer.
Can you provide an overview of the key regions that you service for mining companies?
Today, we have a cargo aircraft based in Yellowknife. Our main base is in Mirabel, Montreal, from which we do mostly passenger flights. We have also expanded our services to the Wabush region and to the Meadowbank project for Agnico Eagle. The company recently decided to diversity the markets it services by launching the OWG brand, which is more passenger oriented. Nolinor has also expanded its geographic footprint outside of Canada and now offers flights to Los Cabos in Mexico.
How has Nolinor adapted to price increases and logistics issues?
We have had to reinvent many of our processes and change the way we work with suppliers. For example, in the past, if an aircraft part was broken, within 24 hours we would have had that part back in inventory. Now when a part breaks, getting another part may take multiple weeks. Additionally, fuel used to account for approximately 28% of our costs, but this has increased significantly and is more than 100% higher than what we paid even a year ago. Today we are less focused on major R&D projects and are more concerned about reinventing the way we work to save costs while still offering the highest quality service to customers.
What sets Nolinor apart from its competitors?
Over the past two years, the aviation market has changed drastically. In the past, people would never have expected their flight to be canceled, while nowadays hundreds of flights are canceled each week. Nolinor’s goal is to maintain the same level of service the company has always offered by overcoming pandemic-related challenges to ensure they have no impact on customers. Our on-time departure rate is excellent, and we have not cancelled a single flight throughout the entire pandemic. Internally, we implemented a program that provides our entire workforce the opportunity to become pilots 100% on our cost. We have turned out over 10 pilots from this program thus far.
What is Nolinor’s growth strategy for the next few years?
Our vision to grow Nolinor has always been to wait for customers to make specific requests before finding the best type of aircraft to answer their needs. We are not buying aircrafts and then looking for customers, but rather letting customer demand lead us in the way we grow our fleet and services. Depending on the type of requests we receive, we adjust and provide.