Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Around the Arctic December 14, 2011 - 5:09 pm

First Air’s president resigns Dec. 14

"It’s kind of a shock"

SARAH ROGERS
First Air President and CEO Scott Bateman, right, is pictured here with Harry Flaherty, president of Qikiqtaaluk Corp. at the launch of Qikiqtani First Aviation Ltd. last February. Bateman's abrupt resignation was announced to the airline’s employees Dec. 14. (FILE PHOTO)
First Air President and CEO Scott Bateman, right, is pictured here with Harry Flaherty, president of Qikiqtaaluk Corp. at the launch of Qikiqtani First Aviation Ltd. last February. Bateman's abrupt resignation was announced to the airline’s employees Dec. 14. (FILE PHOTO)

Scott Bateman, the president and chief executive officer of First Air, abruptly resigned from his post, the airline confirmed Dec. 14.

The airline did not issue a press release on the departure of its president, although First Air’s 1,100 employees were notified of Bateman’s departure through an email circulated Wednesday afternoon.

“We were very surprised to hear he was resigning,” said Pita Aatami, the president of Makivik Corp., which owns the airline. “Scott’s been with us for 32 years and we’ve had a very good relationship over the years. It’s kind of a shock.”

Aatami told Nunatsiaq News in a phone interview that Bateman’s decision to leave the airline was entirely his own.

Bateman sat at the helm of First Air for the past four years, although his work with the northern airline industry goes back three decades.

Bateman worked with Makivik’s other wholly-owned airline, Air Inuit, for many years before he headed up NWT Air when Makivik acquired that airline in 1997.

Bateman took over from former First Air president Bob Davis in 2008.

But like other airlines, First Air struggled to stay afloat with the economic downturn in recent years.

And then the airline was dealt a fatal blow when one of its Boeing 737 jets crashed just outside of Resolute Bay this past August, killing 12 people aboard.

“It has not been an easy year for First Air,” Aatami said. “It’s really affected Scott and it’s also affected me.

“To go through something as traumatic as losing that many people and then having to answer to their families…..it’s been horrific.”

But Aatami said the airline is “in good hands,” while First Air’s vice-president of finance, Kris Dolinki, has been named interim president.

Dolinki, who has been with First Air since 2009, is the former president of Zoom Airlines, a Canadian discount airline that operated until 2008.

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