Facing financial difficulties linked to a ban on caribou hunting and difficulties in securing insurance following two fatal crashes in the last four years, Air Saguenay has ceased operations and put its assets up for sale after more than 50 seasons in the air.

The president of the northern Québécoise carrier, Jean Tremblay, told the Canadian Press news agency on November 25 that its activities would cease by the end of the month and that he was looking for potential buyers for “certain parts” of the company.

“I have already targeted potential buyers, but as I speak nothing is sold,” he said.

The airline, which launched operations in the 1960s, connects 11 seaplane bases and reaches isolated spots with its seaplanes such as Wabush and Chibougamau. The company, which provides seasonal services, would normally have resumed operations as of June 2020. Fifty employees will lose their jobs.

According to the Canadian register, 25 aircraft are listed under Air Saguenay including thirteen DHC-2s, eight DHC-3s, and four Cessna (single piston) aircraft.

Air Saguenay took a hit in 2015 when a DHC-2 crashed in a forest near Les Bergeronnes, killing seven people. Then, in parallel with a lawsuit filed after a fatal crash of another DHC-2 on Lake Mistassini in July 2018, Tremblay explained that a decision by the provincial government to ban caribou sport hunting from 2018 had signed Air Saguenay's death warrant.

Pursued in the courts by the family of one of the seven victims of the most recent crash, in which the bodies of three people and the fuselage were never recovered, the company has been unable to find an insurer. With no wreckage or witnesses, the Transportation Safety Board of Canada warned it could not conduct a thorough investigation to determine the cause of the accident.

The lawsuit claims that poorly maintained equipment may have contributed to the accident. It is also alleged that the airline had not adapted to new safety standards, as none of the victims found were wearing a flotation jacket. These new standards were made to the Canadian Aviation Regulations in March 2019 but will not come into effect until September 2020.