Air Creebec’s rainbow plane spreads cheer

Avatar for Lisa GordonBy Lisa Gordon | May 8, 2020

Estimated reading time 5 minutes, 13 seconds.

Even after the worst storms, rainbows promise brighter times to come.

Air Creebec's rainbow plane - JP Richard Photo
An Air Creebec Dash 8-300 is bringing a reassuring message as it flies into isolated northern communities across Quebec and Ontario. JP Richard Photo

That’s the message being carried by an Air Creebec Dash 8-300 turboprop as it flies into isolated northern communities across Quebec and Ontario. From Attawapiskat to Chisasibi, the aircraft’s new rainbow-themed livery is spreading a message of hope and solidarity even while the COVID-19 pandemic continues to keep Canadians apart.

The bright idea came from Martin Laplante, Air Creebec’s quality assurance inspector. Heading into the Easter weekend, he was thinking about how the Waskaganish, Que.-based airline had asked employees’ children to send in rainbow drawings that would be made into a book.

Martin Laplante, Air Creebec rainbow plane
Martin Laplante, Air Creebec’s quality assurance inspector, came up with the bright idea for the rainbow livery. Air Creebec Photo

“That really inspired me. I had this idea to put a rainbow design on an airplane,” he told Skies.

Realizing that one of Air Creebec’s Dash 8-300 aircraft was then in the paint shop at AAR in Trois-Rivieres, Que., he moved fast, texting Tanya Pash, the company’s chief operating officer, to explain his idea.

“I wasn’t sure if it was feasible,” continued Laplante. “I didn’t know if the company that does the design and produces the stickers was open. Tanya gave me the go-ahead, so I called the company that makes all the stickers for us. They were open because they were manufacturing visors for medical personnel.”

LibelluleMonde agreed to take on the decal project – even donating its design services for free – but the timing was tight because the rainbow graphic had to be applied while the aircraft was still in the paint shop.

By that same afternoon, Laplante had five possible designs in hand. Air Creebec staff members made some tweaks until they came up with the winning plan, which included a rainbow design on the tail and the encouraging words, “Ça va bien aller – It’s going to be ok.”

The colourful plan was kept under wraps until the aircraft was ready to be unveiled on April 23.

“I was texting Martin all morning asking when I could have some pictures,” said Pash. “As soon as the plane took off (from Trois-Rivieres), we were able to send emails to all the employees at the same time and included photos of the aircraft taking off.

“As the plane was taxiing to our Montreal FBO, I started getting video — people were texting. Everybody was getting really, really excited. Sometimes you just need that little boost.”

Air Creebec Dash 8-300
Last year, Air Creebec delivered 161,828 pounds of cargo to northern communities for free. Air Creebec Photo

A post on the Air Creebec Facebook page was liked by more than 800 people as of May 7, and Pash said industry response has been “overwhelming.”

“We thank (Air Creebec) for their dedication to brightening our day and reminding us that #itsgoingtobeok,” said a De Havilland Canada Facebook post.

The airline has been rotating the rainbow plane through each of its 16 scheduled destinations in northern Quebec and Ontario.

“I think a lot of our crews are proud,” said Pash. “The first time it landed in Val-d’Or we had spotters at the airport. Everybody loves it. The whole idea behind it was to cheer up our employees but also our industry.”

Air Creebec is no stranger to delivering support to isolated northern communities. The company has a committee that meets regularly to review applications for reduced or free transportation on its fleet of 18 aircraft (14 Dash 8-100s, two Dash 8-300s and two Hawker Siddeley HS748s). Pash said the airline tries to help with requests associated with education, health or sports.

“We have destinations in two provinces so we try to prioritize to spread the benefits among all our clients.”

Last year, Air Creebec delivered 161,828 pounds of cargo free of charge.

 

 

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