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Familiar face back at the controls of Wasaya Airways

Tom Morris comes out of retirement to lead First Nation air carrier
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Tom Morris Wasaya
Wasaya Airways president Tom Morris in a 2009 photo.

Tom Morris is back at the helm of Wasaya Airways in Thunder Bay.

The aviation industry veteran has been appointed the new president-CEO of the First Nation-owned regional air carrier. He replaces Michael Rodyniuk.

The selection of Morris was unanimously approved by the Wasaya board of directors and their business partner, EIC.

Morris brings 22 years of airline experience with Wasaya, including 14 years as CEO.

A Sept. 5 Wasaya release said Morris retired in 2015 “but realized he still had a lot to offer Wasaya and the First Nation communities they serve.”

In a statement, Morris said he was honoured to be picked by the chiefs and EIC to return to the fold.

“I have invested many years into Wasaya as a company and helping the people and communities in our region. I am looking forward to moving forward and build on opportunities and continue with the growth and success of Wasaya."

Joining Morris will be Brad Martin, the new chief operating officer.

Martin comes to Wasaya with 41 years of aviation experience, including at Bearskin Airlines where he has been CEO since 2014. He’ll transition over full time to Wasaya by January.

“I have had the privilege to work alongside Wasaya in the industry for over 25 years,” said Martin.

“It is a great honour to be associated with a company who has a great depth, association and understanding of the aviation industry within northwestern Ontario. I have a great respect for Wasaya and its staff and am looking forward to working with the team to continue providing the upmost service the guests and customers have come to expect from the Wasaya brand.”

Rodyniuk had been vice-president and COO of the aviation arm of EIC, the Winnipeg parent company that purchased Bearskin Airlines in 2010. He was hired to lead Wasaya in 2015 after its emergence from corporate restructuring.

He guided Wasaya through an aggressive expansion phase with new routes added in northwestern Ontario and into Winnipeg, a fleet modernization program, and he hinted at expansion into northeastern Ontario at some point.

Rodyniuk announced in February that Wasaya has signed a $25-million debt and equity deal with Exchange Income Corporation to recapitalize the regional carrier and finance its growth plans.

Wasaya, which is owned by 12 First Nation communities and serves 25 destinations in northwestern Ontario, launched flights into Winnipeg last year. About 35 per cent of its 320-employee workforce is Indigenous.

EIC’s holdings include ownership of Perimeter Aviation (which includes Bearskin), Keewatin Air, Calm Air International, Custom Helicopters, Regional One and Provincial Aerospace.




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