Adlair fights GN decision on Kitikmeot medevac contract
"It’s all in the hands of the politicians in Iqaluit"
Adlair Aviation Ltd. has filed an appeal with the Nunavummi Nangminiqaqtunik Ikajuuti office against a Government of Nunavut decision to give the Kitikmeot medevac contract to another airline.
The GN decided last month to award the medevac contract in the Kitikmeot region to Yellowknife-based Air Tindi and its partner, Aqsaqniq, a private company headed by Dennis Lyall that also owns the Boothia Inn in Taloyoak.
Chuck Parker, president of Air Tindi, recently told Nunatsiaq News he was “not able to comment” on the medevac award, part of the $53 million that the GN will spend this year on providing on medical evacuation and medical travel services to Nunavut residents.
Paul Laserich, general manager of Adlair, said Sept. 6 that his company had filed an appeal with the GN after learning in mid-August that his company did not win the medevac contract.
Adlair has held that contract since 1999 and before that, provided the service under the Government of the Northwest Territories.
“We’re not saying anything. It’s all in the hands of the politicians in Iqaluit right now,” Laserich said.
By Sept. 12 the Nunavummi Nangminiqaqtunik Ikajuuti contracting appeals board, which hears all appeals made about contract awards, must hold a hearing on Adlair’s appeal, said Ron Dewar, NNI’s executive co-ordinator.
The central goal of the NNI policy, as set out on its website, is “to maximize the participation of Nunavut, Inuit, and community-based [local] businesses” in GN contracting.
Appeals to the NNI appeals board, whose members include Allan Lahure, Sarah Manniapik, Chris Cote and Barry Cornthwaite, must be based upon an argument that the NNI policy was not applied correctly in selecting the winning bid.
Appeals must be submitted in writing by the unsuccessful bidder or proponent within 15 business days of the award announcement — but sometimes a decision by the appeal board can take months, Dewar said.
A family-owned and operated business, with hangars in Cambridge Bay and Yellowknife, Adlair was established by renowned bush pilot Willy Laserich, a member of the Aviation Hall of Fame.
Adlair flies a Lear Jet 25B, two King Air 200s and a Twin Otter.
Its Lear Jet is a medevac aircraft, ready to fly 24 hours a day, seven days a week, according to its website, “with a full complement of veteran pilots, qualified medivac nurses and the Lifeport patient system.”
Flying Nunavut patients to Yellowknife and Edmonton accounts for about 70 per cent of the business of the airline.
Adlair came under the spotlight during the April 2010 inquest into the death of Julian Tologanak-Labrie, 20, of Cambridge Bay, who jumped to his death from one of Adlair’s aircraft in April, 2009 when it was en route from Yellowknife to Cambridge Bay.
Tologanak-Labrie was not an official medical passenger on the medical charter flight, which carried only him and another passenger.
Since then, every medical flight operated by Adlair has also carried a nurse, with access to medical information about the patient on board.
Immediately after Tologanak-Labrie’s jump, Adlair’s owners and managers Paul and René Laserich spelled out a policy in Apr. 20, 2009 letter, saying all future medical travel flights would be solely for patients and their escorts.
But this policy didn’t exist when Tologanak-Labrie opened the door of Adlair’s King Air 200 at 7,000 metres.
At the inquest, Paul Laserich said he went ahead and crafted the policy without any input from the governments of Nunavut or the NWT, because official decisions can take time.
All passengers on medical travel flights must now possess warrants from the Nunavut health department.
Air Tindi has held a medevac contract with the NWT government since 1996.
Air Tindi, along with its partners at Aklak Air, are currently the sole provider of medevac services under the GNWT.
The two partner airlines operate a fleet of seven King Air 200’s and 100’s. Five of these aircraft are dedicated 24 hours per day, year-round, with two on stand-by. These King Airs are equipped with “state of the art full medical interiors,” the Air Tindi website says.
“Most of the equipment in a hospital room can be found in our aircraft. One of our King Air 200’s C-GDPB has a large cargo door.” It’s the only King Air 200 in western Canada with such a door to “ensure very easy loading and unloading of passengers who are on stretchers.”
An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified Julian Tologanak-Labrie. We regret the error.
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