THUNDER BAY -- It can be cheaper to fly from Thunder Bay to Europe than it is getting in and out of Muskrat Dam.
For the 435 community members, the round-trip ticket to Sioux Lookout can be nearly $900. The steep price tag led them to ask chief Gordon Beardy to find for another way.
"To have competition that benefits the business community and also the membership," he said Thursday afternoon as his community and Sachigo Lake announced a partnership with Cargo North and its sister company North Star Air to start flying freight and passengers to the community.
Muskrat Dam is still being serviced by Wasaya, of which the community was part-owner. Beardy said he couldn't get into that partnership as legal matters might be at stake.
"When you're a leader you have to look at what's best for the community," he said. "You have to seriously ask yourself 'is this the only way?’"
CEO Frank Kelner said the companies, in operation for more than a year now, just want to be able to meet the needs of the communities and being on time.
"Typical movement up North is very rapid," he said. "That means a lot to them.
"We're going to do whatever it takes to keep them happy."
The airline hopes to provide direct flights to Thunder Bay soon Kelner said. It also plans on expanding its current six-plane roster.