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In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, countless air operators have been forced to reinvent themselves almost overnight. “Agile” and “nimble” have become the buzzwords of an industry that is trying to feel its way back from the brink.
While the stress has been significant for most established operators, the pressure has been astronomical for a group of aviation professionals who were in the midst of launching a new Toronto-based regional airline when the pandemic hit in mid-March.
And yet, seemingly in spite of it all, Pivot Airlines became a reality in late May.
Created from the ashes of Air Georgian, which flew 62,000 flights a year under a capacity purchase agreement (CPA) with Air Canada, the new airline resulted from an asset purchase agreement that was approved by the court through a process called a Notice of Intention, similar to a Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act process.
The onset of COVID-19 was an additional hurdle that proved the new operation had been aptly named. During its development, the pandemic caused the business plan to “pivot” from the originally envisioned regional airline to a much leaner charter operation.
“We’ve gone from a CPA carrier to a full-service charter airline focused on workforce logistic charters and ACMI (aircraft, crew, maintenance and insurance) contracts,” wrote CEO Eric Edmondson, also formerly of Air Georgian, on LinkedIn.
He noted that while this is his fourth AOC (air operator certificate) and third AMO (approved maintenance organization) launch, this has been the most challenging by far. The Pivot Airlines team has grappled with not only the legal restructuring process, but also the global pandemic and the impacts it has had on aviation regulation.
Aside from Edmondson, Pivot Airlines also includes Troy Stephens, VP of Flight Operations; Adeeb Haddadi, VP of Maintenance Operations; and Ravinder Rathore, director of Quality Assurance & Maintenance Training. All are former Air Georgian employees.
“I will forever remain humbled and deeply thankful for the incredible support and work of the many professionals at Transport Canada and the Canadian Transportation Agency who processed our application, conducted reviews, interviews, and audits during such challenging times,” wrote Edmondson. “COVID-19 has increased everyone’s workload and added unimaginable complications. To get us across the goal line was nothing short of amazing.”
Pivot Airlines is owned by Binder Capital Corporation (BCC), a Canadian private equity firm based in Calgary.