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Athabasca Tribal Council finds solution to health services travel concerns

Fort Chip from the air.

"One of the biggest concerns was for patients experiencing extended stays away from home.”

Athabasca Tribal Council (ATC) needed more flights between Fort Chipewyan and Fort McMurray and has found a solution to their problem through a collaboration with Northwestern Air Lease. Now they have three more flights each week serving the tribal council members’ needs.

After a needs assessment was completed, ATC identified an issue with medical patient travel options,

 said Lori Brebant the Health Director at Athabasca Tribal Council.

“Having primarily one airline to serve members, accessing available seats on flights was a challenge. One of the biggest concerns was for patients experiencing extended stays away from home.” 

A joint statement from Chief Archie Waquan (Mikisew Cree First Nation) and Chief Allan Adam (Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation) reads “We are excited about the opportunity for ATC to work with Northwestern Air in order to better serve our members. Time-sensitive travel for health is always in high-demand for our remote community. Now we have another option to meet those needs."

Jim Heidema, COO of Northwestern Air Lease said “This is the beginning of a new relationship.”

In addition to increased flights and comparable pricing, the company is also offering other services, including charters and freight options.

Northwestern Air Lease have larger planes with two engines, resulting in shorter flight times. When space is available, the broader community will also be able to access available seats.

“The well-being of our clients is important to us, and we hope the members are as encouraged by this partnership as we are,” said Karla Buffalo, CEO, of the Tribal Council.

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