Pem–Air, a small community airline, is born, thrives, and finally dies in Pem–Air: The Little Community Airline That Survived Deregulation and Air Canada by Del O’Brien.
Pem-Air operated out of the remote Pembroke Airport over a period of thirty two years, from 1968 to 2000. Pem–Air’s range of activities included daily flights in and out of the major airports of Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, and Quebec, cities connecting to communities in Quebec and Ontario, both north and south. It further included missions to the far north, air ambulance and helicopter ambulance services, overnight bank runs, daily isotope deliveries to major American cities, fire suppression contracts, charters, and, of course, hockey flights, designating it an Official World Hockey Association carrier.
The decades of the 1980s were good years for Pem–Air, both in terms of its finances and in the variety of its services to the public. However, by the end of the decade, the headwinds were everywhere in evidence, and the airline was challenged on every front. For various reasons, traffic began to fall off. The coup de grâce came with deregulation, introduced by the federal government, which affected most airlines. With deregulation, airlines came under pressure to reverse the priority of safety vs. profit. Service-oriented Pem–Air, and at the end, Trillium Air, were not able to stand up under this kind of pressure. The Little Airline that Could did its best.