September 2015, marked the 15th anniversary of Transwest Air, which signals a point in their corporate history to be very proud of. However, what many do not realize is that when you look back into the period before the merger that created Transwest Air, you will see that they have actually been operating continuously within northern Saskatchewan for 60 years.
Now, 60 years is a very long time to be conducting continuous aviation operations in what is often an unforgiving environment, and in many ways this long formation process has allowed Transwest to really “grow up” and evolve alongside the region they serve. Consider that what began as a two-man, single aircraft operation in 1955, has today developed into a group of five companies that operate nearly 40 aircraft and employ 225 personnel, 75 per cent of which live and work north of Saskatoon. What’s more is that this growth and expansion has not been random, but has instead always been in direct response to the evolving service needs of the region. For instance, Northern Saskatchewan is a beautiful but predominantly remote wilderness, and so Transwest has a large fleet of helicopters and ample amount of fixed wing aircraft do not require a runway to land. Also, as it is often difficult to support ongoing remote operations here, Transwest’s fuelling company has developed so that it does not only provide fuel services at airports and aerodromes, but is robustly capable of delivering large quantities of petroleum to almost any location where it may be needed. So in many ways, Transwest Air and the Transwest Group of Companies has become a bespoke aerospace company for this region.
Of course, the company believes all of this is good news for mining. Developing a mining operation is an exceptionally complicated and capital intensive venture; and so Transwest believes that the synergies that exist within the Transwest Group, where airline, float, ski, helicopter, and fuelling services all exist together under one corporate umbrella, will provide an overall value in support to mining operations that simply cannot be matched by any competitor who is not similarly diversified.
This is particularly exciting for Transwest because as they survey the mining landscape they are seeing clear signs that mining operations in Northern Saskatchewan should be set to boom in the very near future. While for now mineral and resource markets remain depressed, the weak Canadian dollar is helping to offset the effects of this market depression, and so Transwest anticipates the expected rates of return on mining ventures should soon surpass the threshold required for development projects to commence. This is one of the reasons why the group has also been quite aggressive in acquiring strategic ground stations to best serve these anticipated mining developments.
For instance, within Northern Saskatchewan’s western region, their recent purchase of the hangar, terminal, and fuelling installations at Buffalo Narrows means support to mining operations in this region can now be accomplished much more economically, because they will no longer be required to transit aircraft all the way from La Ronge in order to do work here. Then, within the eastern region of the province, their recent purchase of the aerodrome at Southend should pay similar dividends for any mining operations looking for aerospace support in eastern Saskatchewan and/or western Manitoba. It is true Transwest purchased the Southend aerodrome for the primary purpose of returning much needed MEDEVAC capabilities to this community, but they now have additional plans to further develop the runway there in order to enable a greater variety of aircraft to operate here, and so open this community up for greater economic opportunity and employment. Specifically, any mining companies whose current or future employees are based in Southend will now be able to access air transportation and charters from this location that were previously impossible, and it is the company’s sincere hope this greatly improved access will invigorate many much needed employment and economic opportunities for the community of Southend.
So from the vantage of Transwest’s 15th anniversary, as they look back on all that they have accomplished and all they are doing, Transwest feels very proud of how well they have established themselves to support the resurgence in mining activity that everyone is hoping for. With a diverse operational offering that is able to work synergistically within a family of companies to produce uncommon value, and now enjoying major infrastructure footprints in Saskatoon, Prince Albert, La Ronge, Wollaston Lake, Stony Rapids, Fond du Lac, Buffalo Narrows and Southend; if your mining operation is ready to soar, you can trust Transwest to get you airborne.