Nolinor gives food a free ride

Avatar for Lisa GordonBy Lisa Gordon | May 5, 2020

Estimated reading time 4 minutes, 59 seconds.

“When times are hard, it’s time to give back.”

That’s one of the quotes from a Nolinor Aviation video shared on Twitter on April 23. In it, the Quebec-based air charter company challenged other northern operators to transport essential cargo to Northern Canada free of charge.

Free flight NRL123 lands in Iqaluit
Nolinor flight NRL123 lands in Iqaluit on May 4, loaded with food and supplies. Frank Reardon Photo

On May 4, Nolinor delivered on that promise. One of the company’s Boeing 737-200 aircraft landed in Iqaluit, Nunavut at 3:30 p.m. local time, filled with food, water and personal hygiene products for northern residents. The flight was provided free of charge to transport essential supplies provided by Food Banks Canada.

“Basically, it’s pretty much a spirit of the time,” said Nolinor president Marco Prud’Homme, whose company has been flying to Nunavut for more than 27 years.

“Over the last few weeks, we’ve seen a lot of airlines requesting money from different governments. I guess the first thing you have to do when coming to bad times is ask yourself, ‘What can you give back?’ We’ve been flying to Nunavut for many years now; giving a flight didn’t seem to be such a big thing to cover. So we sent a challenge to other airlines to do the same.”

Free flight NRL123 is unloaded in Iqaluit.
Crews unload the aircraft in Iqaluit. Frank Reardon Photo

The Nolinor offer resulted in a free ride for 24,000 pounds of groceries and other essential supplies that are badly needed in the North.

Nolinor worked with Lisa Sommers, food procurement manager at Food Banks Canada, to coordinate the shipment.

Sommers told Skies that sending food to the North on a cost effective basis has always been a challenge. Through a contact at Northern Shopper, an online grocery service catering to northern residents, she was recently connected with Nolinor.

“When I got that email, saying that Nolinor would provide a free flight up to Iqaluit, I was ecstatic!” said Sommers. “I worked with my teammates and we sent up 23 pallets of food products, water, infant formula, personal care products and also a large number of healthy food packs for children.”

Those packs are part of Food Banks Canada’s After the Bell program, which aims to feed hungry children during the summer when they can’t access school food programs. Since kids are at home during the pandemic, they are being sent out now.

Thanks to Nolinor’s philanthropy, 1,200 food packs were transported to Iqaluit – a much higher number than would normally have been sent on a paid flight.

“It allowed us to do a lot more and didn’t cost us the freight to do it,” said Sommers. “This was the largest product shipment we’ve ever sent to Iqaluit. Nolinor has been incredible.”

The Quebec operator challenged other northern operators to donate similar flights, asking them to use the flight number “123.”

So far, Prud’Homme is not aware of any other operators accepting that challenge, but he remains optimistic.

“If everyone follows suit and gives away a flight, we could all make a sizeable difference.”

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  1. Great company! I flew to Baker lake for 5 years and 11/2 years to baffinland as a contractor and this Airline is nothing but a class act.

  2. I agree with you. I wish we could say the same about . . . Air Canada and Westjet.

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