Debt-ridden Wasaya Airways in ‘danger of collapsing’

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midwingcrisis
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Debt-ridden Wasaya Airways in ‘danger of collapsing’

Post by midwingcrisis »

Debt-ridden Wasaya Airways in ‘danger of collapsing’ forced to sell assets

http://aptn.ca/news/2014/03/01/debt-rid ... ll-assets/

Kenneth Jackson and Cullen Crozier
APTN Investigates

Just before Christmas the principal owners of Wasaya Airways received a letter.

They were warned Wasaya was about to be grounded by a mountain of debt, according to a letter obtained by APTN Investigates in an on-going investigation into the First Nation-owned airway.

The letter was written by the chair of Wasaya’s board of directors to the chiefs of the 11 other First Nations that share ownership of Wasaya.

“Unless we are able to substantially reduce the amount owed to (Wasaya) Airways by our ownership First Nations, as represented by you, within the next month, (Wasaya) Airways is in danger of collapsing,” wrote Chief Bart Meekis on Dec. 16.

Meekis confronted the ownership First Nations, telling the chiefs they had racked up more than $2.6 million in debt to Wasaya as of Dec. 13. Meekis is also an ownership chief, representing Sandy Lake First Nation.

Together, they were more than $1 million over their credit limit.

A closure wouldn’t just affect them but the many other First Nations that depend on them, Meekis said.

“The impact of this would be catastrophic, not only for you and for your community, but also for the other First Nations and businesses within each community, as no other airway will be willing and able to offer the level of service that we currently provide,” he said, adding that he appreciated that government funds were slow coming in to each First Nation, possibly affecting their ability to pay on time.

It was just a couple months ago when Meekis raised the alarm in the letter.

Wasaya hasn’t gone under and continues to operate.

APTN has learned that to do this, Wasaya had to either sell assets or is in the process of selling assets.

When questioned by APTN, Meekis said the company had to make changes.

“We’re restructuring,” he said during an interview. “There are some businesses that Wasaya had that were eating away at the financials, so right now what’s happening is we’re letting go of some of those side businesses that Wasaya had that’s not making money. It’s just drawing money out from the business.”

He didn’t say what those businesses were but according to their website Wasaya owns Wasaya Prop Shop that claims to be a worldwide leader in aircraft repair. The website also lists a fueling company.

Wasaya flew over 100,000 passengers in 2012.

Wasaya President Tom Morris at first offered this week to speak to APTN face-to-face, but later declined via a letter.

In his letter, Morris wrote: “Wasaya Airways LP is a private company and is accountable to the First Nations who are its owners. Wasaya Airways will not comment publicly on any internal matters. ”

It’s not clear if the mounting debt has been cleared but it was beginning to interfere with day-to-day business as creditors refused to loan anymore money to Wasaya until they paid up, according to Meekis’ letter.

“We have already been refused further credit by some suppliers, pending clearing our outstanding accounts payable,” said Meekis in the Dec. 16 letter. “That is in itself a warning sign that we are in financial trouble.”

When asked why the ownership communities ran up the debt to the point of near collapse Meekis said it wasn’t just the owners but other communities that Wasaya provides services to.

“It’s not only the ownership communities it’s the other communities that run up the bill,” he said to APTN during a telephone interview.

But in his letter to the chiefs, Meekis said the other communities’ debt was considerably low in comparison to what he said ownership First Nations owed.

He mentioned, but didn’t name, 10 other First Nations owing just over $200,000.

Wasaya staff and chiefs have flown into the communities to try and get First Nations to pay up, Meekis told APTN. Chiefs were warned that Wasaya wouldn’t carry their debt any longer.

“So what’s happened is that the staff, and some of the chiefs, have visited the communities to try to, because it’s not a bank. Wasaya’s not a bank. To try to pay their bills because when you owe a bill you got to pay your bill,” he said.

According to further documents obtained by APTN and interviews with confidential sources, since Wayaya became 100 per cent First Nation owned in 1998, it’s unclear if ever only turned a profit besides one year and that was in 2009.

Meekis partially addressed that in his letter to the chiefs.

“We also know that the decisions not to pay your Wasaya account directly relates to your ownership shares in the company. In those communities where the First Nations’ accounts with Wasaya are way beyond their authorized limits, local stores are also way behind with their payments,” Meekis wrote.

When asked why Wasaya has rarely provided a yearly return to the communities Meekis said he didn’t know.

“I don’t know if I can give you that information right now because I don’t know,” he said.

Meekis called a different APTN reporter later the same night of his interview, demanding to know who provided us with a copy of his Dec. 16 letter to the chiefs.

The identity of the source was not disclosed.

During the phone interview, when Meekis was asked if Wasaya is going bankrupt, he replied that it wasn’t.

But in his letter, Meekis warned the chiefs that financial collapse was a very real possibility. He wrote that six First Nations in the ownership group were in “serious arrears.”

“Please be prepared to work with us, as we all stand to lose if Wasaya Airways fails,” he wrote.

kjackson@aptn.ca

ccrozier@aptn.ca
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crazy_aviator
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Re: Debt-ridden Wasaya Airways in ‘danger of collapsing’

Post by crazy_aviator »

New 4 wheel trucks, skidoos, multiple trips to winterpeg, booze,,,yea, i can imagine where the monies gone :roll:
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Doc
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Re: Debt-ridden Wasaya Airways in ‘danger of collapsing’

Post by Doc »

They'll just dip their paws into the tax payer cookie jar, and all will start anew. It's what they do. Good indication of crappy management is allowing debts to become that large in the first place. If the bills aren't being paid, the pop and chips stop flowing. Pretty simple? Pay the bill, you'll get more Pampers!
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2R
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Re: Debt-ridden Wasaya Airways in ‘danger of collapsing’

Post by 2R »

Will the transport minister Lisa Raitt force Air Canada to take over and service the Routes if the " Rising Sun" sets ?
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dahspeers
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Re: Debt-ridden Wasaya Airways in ‘danger of collapsing’

Post by dahspeers »

crazy_aviator wrote:New 4 wheel trucks, skidoos, multiple trips to winterpeg, booze,,,yea, i can imagine where the monies gone :roll:
Glad someone said it
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Doc
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Re: Debt-ridden Wasaya Airways in ‘danger of collapsing’

Post by Doc »

dahspeers wrote:
crazy_aviator wrote:New 4 wheel trucks, skidoos, multiple trips to winterpeg, booze,,,yea, i can imagine where the monies gone :roll:
Glad someone said it
Not like this is news to anyone? Lots of GMC Denali vehicles around when I was there. Kind of nice to see it catching up to them. Karma can be such a B!
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azimuthaviation
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Re: Debt-ridden Wasaya Airways in ‘danger of collapsing’

Post by azimuthaviation »

Funny, When Canada 3000, JetsGo, Skyservice, and the rest went bankrupt, nobody supposed it was because the CEO's drank away the company's profits in the Winnipeg bars.
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iflyforpie
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Re: Debt-ridden Wasaya Airways in ‘danger of collapsing’

Post by iflyforpie »

That's because they didn't drink and spend the profits away.

You're confusing calculated theft (C3, Jetsgo) with gross ineptitude.

Plus, have a look around these boards to see what people really thought of C3 and Jetsgo.
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ea306
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Re: Debt-ridden Wasaya Airways in ‘danger of collapsing’

Post by ea306 »

You are probably right....none of them were likely in Winnipeg much..lol :)
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azimuthaviation
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Re: Debt-ridden Wasaya Airways in ‘danger of collapsing’

Post by azimuthaviation »

Oh, I thought it was just people using an opportunity to attempt to rehash the same old stereotypes about natives getting buckets of taxpayer money and spending it on booze.
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Re: Debt-ridden Wasaya Airways in ‘danger of collapsing’

Post by iflyforpie »

Just so you know Azimuth, I am the son of a status Indian. I think I know a little bit more about the subject than you do.
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azimuthaviation
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Re: Debt-ridden Wasaya Airways in ‘danger of collapsing’

Post by azimuthaviation »

That could mean being 1/8 native and have no connection with the Native Canadian experience. I grew up in rural NW Alberta, nearest town 80 km in either direction, very high native concentration. Lots of alcoholism,lots of suicide, lots of graft, lots of petty larceny. And the natives were responsible for very little of it. So I do find it offensive when every time theres a story regarding anything remotely connected with natives it automatically defaults to that conversation. BTW, 50% of everyone living in Canada west of Ontario has some Native blood in them. Doesnt make you an authority on the issue, same goes for CatDriver who likes to pipe in on these issues, and verify that everything said about natives is true and he should know, hes 1/64th MicMaaq.
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azimuthaviation
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Re: Debt-ridden Wasaya Airways in ‘danger of collapsing’

Post by azimuthaviation »

Aloha goes bankrupt, TWA, PanAm, airlines big and small, around the world. Leaving passengers stranded, leaving serious arrears. Nobody accuses them of drunkenly riding off into the night with taxpayer funded skidoos. But in Wasayas case its what "they" do. When was Doc privy to the financials of Wasaya, I have no idea, yet apparently he knows.
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GUMPS
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Re: Debt-ridden Wasaya Airways in ‘danger of collapsing’

Post by GUMPS »

Ok so why don't you tell us what you know? Cause from what every other poster has said in here isn't a far stretch.
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CID
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Re: Debt-ridden Wasaya Airways in ‘danger of collapsing’

Post by CID »

Comparing Wasaya to Pan Am and the like? Wow.....
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frozen solid
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Re: Debt-ridden Wasaya Airways in ‘danger of collapsing’

Post by frozen solid »

Whether this can be attributed to "typical" Native behaviour or not, I find the glee some people take in adopting a see-I-told-you-so attitude towards their business failings to be a little distasteful. I spent a long portion of my career in Northern Ontario before moving away and adopting a larger world-view. I used to think that petty larceny, selfishness, nepotism, laziness and backbiting were endemic to Native culture but now I see that the whole thing is playing out everywhere on different scales. When you consider a lot of third-world politics and large emancipated former-colony populations and their abilities to run businesses it all looks familiar all over the world. Maybe an artifact in our case of expecting an early-stone-age population to keep up with a post-space-age one in what, three generations? Meanwhile us guys of Anglo-European ancestry are still having trouble losing the idea of a "class" system in which we seem to need someone to look down on to use as an example of what we don't want to be like.

I guess what I'm trying to say is I don't see much difference between a Chief who makes a six-digit income and drives a nice truck and has a cool house and treats himself to a drinking vacation in the city while the other guys in his village are living under tarps, and a top-echelon "executive" who "makes" tens of millions of dollars and receives a bonus equal to or greater than the sum total of the salaries of all the professional employees he just laid off or the pensions of the pilots who had to re-negotiate a lower salary in order to "save" the company. Maybe the difference is in the cleverness with which they try to bilk their victims into thinking it's all fair ball while they scrabble for scraps from the master's table.

Here we see a so-called "privately owned" airline that has as its board of directors a bunch of elected, currently-serving politicians, who use the airline to sport themselves around at the expense of the rest of the population. It might be happening on a small scale and it might be Natives who are doing it, but when you look at it that way it isn't the first time this scenario has played out. I'm sure lots of you can think of another example, with whiteys, on a larger scale. I'm not sure this needs to be chalked up to Natives acting like Natives.
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Doc
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Re: Debt-ridden Wasaya Airways in ‘danger of collapsing’

Post by Doc »

azimuthaviation wrote:Aloha goes bankrupt, TWA, PanAm, airlines big and small, around the world. Leaving passengers stranded, leaving serious arrears. Nobody accuses them of drunkenly riding off into the night with taxpayer funded skidoos. But in Wasayas case its what "they" do. When was Doc privy to the financials of Wasaya, I have no idea, yet apparently he knows.
Not "privy" to their financials. They do dip into tax dollars to fix their woes. They DID buy their management a bunch of Denali 4X4's! This is pretty common knowledge.
As for skidoos.....well, I have no knowledge of skidoos. I made NO comment about, nor shall I comment on, alcohol.
I have no dog in this fight.
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Doc
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Re: Debt-ridden Wasaya Airways in ‘danger of collapsing’

Post by Doc »

CID wrote:Comparing Wasaya to Pan Am and the like? Wow.....
It is a bit like comparing the Titanic to an overturned kayak.
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azimuthaviation
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Re: Debt-ridden Wasaya Airways in ‘danger of collapsing’

Post by azimuthaviation »

CID wrote:Comparing Wasaya to Pan Am and the like? Wow.....
Yeah, comparing to airlines that went bankrupt.


What is it that bothers you? Is it the scale? Anybody remember when Swanberg Air had a very public, messy, disastrous end a few years ago? AvCanada looked like a goddamn funeral! Nothing but sympathy for their plight, no suggestion of any improper financials by their directors, just a sad story of a great airline, run by a bunch of great guys that couldnt make it due to no fault of their own. No one could say anything bad about them for a month, half the posts on that thread read "EDITED." Nauseating.

And when Wasaya is rumoured to be going bankrupt, its a digital lynching. Why the difference?
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Last edited by azimuthaviation on Sun Mar 02, 2014 7:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Debt-ridden Wasaya Airways in ‘danger of collapsing’

Post by crazy_aviator »

Frozen solid, A very commendable reply and true in totality ! :D
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