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Bearskin Airlines, also known as Bearskin Lake Air Service LP, is a regional Canadian airline based in Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada.

The airline operates services to more than 10 destinations in Ontario and Winnipeg, Manitoba. No other airline offers better connecting service between NW Ontario and NE Ontario. Thunder Bay Airport acts as Bearskin's major hub, linking Northern Ontario's 5 largest cities to NW Ontario and to Winnipeg.

Bearskin Airlines is mainly based in Thunder Bay International Airport, along with North Star Air, with secondary hubs at Winnipeg Airport and Greater Sudbury Airport, Canada.

Bearskin Airlines' origins are from Northern Ontario. John Hegland founded the company on July 17, 1963, naming it after Bearskin Lake, a remote First Nations community located 270 miles northeast of Sioux Lookout.

In 1977, the company commenced its first scheduled route, carrying passengers between Big Trout Lake and Sioux Lookout. A year later, a base operation was established in Sioux Lookout and a second scheduled route was launched, between Sioux Lookout and Thunder Bay. Shortly thereafter, Cliff Friesen moved to Thunder Bay to establish another base operation.

In the late 70's and early 80's, the provincial government embarked upon an extensive airfield construction program in Ontario's remote First Nations communities. Bearskin took advantage of this opportunity to commence scheduled service with wheeled aircraft throughout the north. For many years, Bearskin Airlines provided a vital link to more than 20 First Nation communities accessible only by air.

Throughout the 80's and early 90's Bearskin continued to expand and enhance it's service to many Northwestern Ontario cities, providing connections to Air Canada in Thunder Bay and Winnipeg. Using newly acquired 19 seat Fairchild Metroliners, expansion continued throughout Northeastern Ontario in the mid 90's, followed by Northern Manitoba in 1999. By the summer of 2003, Bearskin Airlines had expanded to include scheduled service to almost 40 destinations.

In early 2003 Bearskin sold its northern assets to Wasaya Airways who took control of Bearskin's scheduled passenger service to 21 First Nation communities. Wasaya is wholly owned by a number of Northwestern Ontario First Nation communities.

Following the sale to Wasaya, Bearskin Airlines rationalized its routes and equipment to include more southern markets within Ontario and a single aircraft type - the Fairchild Metroliner.

The company maintains its Head Office in Thunder Bay and employs more than 180 people throughout Ontario and Manitoba. The company also has a maintenance and pilot base in Thunder Bay.

Baggage Policy

Bearskin Airlines has a different baggage policy for carry-on and checked baggage policy.

Carry-on Baggage

Bearskin Airlines allows 1 piece of carry-on baggage per passenger, limited to a maximum weight of 5.8kg (13lbs). One stroller (buggy), wheelchair, walker, car seat, or bassinet will be accepted free of charge and will not be considered as the free checked baggage allowance.

Any items that are deemed as too large for carry-on will be classed as carry-out luggage and will form part of the free checked baggage allowance.

A maximum of 2 items will be permitted as a carry-on and carry-out combined.

Checked Baggage

Bearskin Airlines has a free checked baggage allowance per customer of 18kg (40lbs). Any checked luggage exceeding the allowance will be charged an excess baggage fee, prior to travel. If an individual piece of baggage is over 31kg (70lbs), then it will not be accepted as checked baggage.

Cabin Classes


Economy Class is the only cabin class on Bearskin Airlines flights. The airline usually flies without a cabin service and flight attendants. The pilot of the plane will give passengers the pre-fight safety tutorial and talk through procedures. Due to its short flight times, the plane doesn't have an onboard toilet. Longer journies usually have stops where passengers can disembark from the plane and use the toilet if they need to.


Enjoy comfortable seats in the Economy Class cabin. Seats are set out in a 1 x 1 formation and are separated by an aisle. This means that each passenger is sat next to both the window and aisle of the plane.


Bearskin Airlines doesn't have a Business Class cabin but it does have Business Class fares, perfect for the needs of business travellers.

Business passengers can purchase Freedom Fare which will give them full flexibility on their ticket. Freedom Fare allows passengers to transfer their ticket to another person if they cannot use it, cancel their flight for a refund or change their flight to an entirely different route or date.


As there's no Business Class cabin, seats are the same as those in Economy. Seats are set out in 1 x 1 formation.

In-flight Entertainment

There's no in-flight entertainment system on flights from Bearskin Airlines. However, the airline does provide in-flight magazines for passengers to read whilst on the flight, including airline and destination magazines, with information about the destination that passengers are travelling to. 

Food & Drink

Food and drink are not served in-flight. However, passengers can bring food and drink onboard from home or bought from the airport if they wish. All food and drink from home must pass through airport security for screening.

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Destinations that Bearskin Airlines flies to

Alternatives to Bearskin Airlines

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Hub Airport

Sudbury Airport

Sudbury Airport (or Greater Sudbury airport) is an airport in the Canadian city of Greater Sudbury, Ontario and is located northeast of the downtown area, on Municipal Road 86 between the communities of Garson and Skead. Although in many contexts the airport uses the name Greater Sudbury Airport, its official name, as registered with Transport Canada and printed in all aeronautical publications, is still simply Sudbury Airport.

The airport is served primarily by regional carrier lines such as Air Canada Jazz, Wasaya Airways Bearskin Airlines, Porter Airlines and WestJet Encore. From 2001 to 2004, it was also served by WestJet flights to Hamilton. It is also a base of Orange air ambulance service.


Bearskin Airlines has over 20 Fairchild Swearingen Metroliner planes within its fleet at this time. The Fairchild Swearingen Metroliner can hold 19 passengers on each plane.

Bearskin Airlines has a history of flying lots of different aircraft manufacturers, including Beechcraft, Cessna, de Havilland, Noorduyn, Pilatus, Piper and Saab.