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Manitoba airline increasing fleet to help overcome flight delays, cancellations

WINNIPEG _ A Manitoba-based air carrier has apologized to a large aboriginal group for flight delays and cancellations in recent weeks and says it will improve service by adding two extra planes to its fleet.

Perimeter Aviation issued the apology Monday to Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak, also known as MKO, which represents First Nations in northern Manitoba.

Since late November, passengers from several communities have encountered lengthy waits in Perimeter terminals in Winnipeg and Thompson due to cancelled flights.

The airline says extreme cold has been a factor in the disruptions.

It says the additional aircraft will help avoid a repeat of the trouble.

MKO Grand Chief Sheila North Wilson says in a statement that her organization will press for a full report on which flights have been cancelled or delayed, and how stranded passengers are being helped.

The new aircraft, expected to be ready to go in the first quarter of 2017, will come from Bombardier’s Dash 8 family.

They will hold 29 to 50 passengers, similar to the largest planes now in Perimeter’s fleet.

“It’s a sizable investment. It’s important that we invest in our communities,” said Perimeter president Nick Vodden.

The airline’s northern service has come under fire the last three weeks due to ongoing delays. MKO said at one point, Perimeter even cancelled a funeral charter.

During a Transport Canada audit, questions surfaced about how Perimeter documents its inspections.

“We decided to reinspect all 28 of our airplanes. We are proactive and that’s how we operate. At no time are we going to avoid doing things or doing things at a later date,” said Vodden.

Vodden said capacity will be kept up during the holiday season.

The new planes that will be purchased “are more just redundancy to support the customers. We want to make sure service is adequate,” he said. (Winnipeg Free Press)