West Wind Aviation (Saskatoon) and Transwest Air (Prince Albert) have announced they will merge their operations under a single Air Operator's Certificate (AOC) and consolidate under a singular brand, Rise Air (4T, Saskatoon). West Wind Aviation Group owns both Canadian regional carriers.

Stephen Smith, outgoing Group president and chief executive, said in an interview with CBC that the consolidation would allow the firm "to survive" the current very trying market conditions.

"There is no question that COVID-19 put a lot of strain [on us] because a lot of people cancelled meetings, which we would provide flights for. The people stop travelling out of northern communities," he said.

Smith said the reduction in the number of AOCs would reduce role duplication, thus contributing to its cost-savings drive.

The rebranding process will start within the next few weeks, once all regulatory requirements have been completed. In tandem with the shift in business operations, Smith will be replaced as President and CEO by former Air Vanuatu chief executive Derek Nice effective February 1. Smith will, however, stay on as chairman of West Wind's board of directors.

West Wind is 65% owned by Athabasca Basin Development, representing the seven communities in the Athabasca Basin, while the Prince Albert Development Corporation owns 22%. It currently operates four ATR42-300s, three Cessna (twin piston) 401s, and one Cessna 414 from bases in Saskatoon and La Ronge as well as in satellite locations in northern Saskatchewan.

For its part, Transwest Air is a wholly-owned subsidiary of West Wind Aviation. It operates one DHC-6-100, four DHC-6-200s, three DHC-6-300s, one S340A(QC), two Saab 340Bs, and four Beech (twin turboprop) King Airs on both chartered as well as scheduled services throughout Saskatchewan.