The North Atlantic French overseas territory may have only a few thousand inhabitants but it can count on regular flights to Canada thanks to local air carrier Air Saint-Pierre.
Part of the French Saint Pierre and Miquelon archipelago – or Collectivité territoriale de Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon – Île Saint-Pierre might be just a small island in the North Atlantic Ocean, but it’s also home to one of the busiest airlines in the region. Founded by Albert Briand in 1964, today Air Saint-Pierre has 41 full-time employees and is still owned by the Briand family. Albert’s son-in-law Rémy has been president for 44 years.
With an HQ closer to the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador than to France, Air Saint-Pierre’s most popular flights are those to Montréal. “Even though St-Pierre et Miquelon is a French overseas archipelago, there is no direct flight between France and the islands. Most of the people going to or coming from France must go to Montréal,” explains general manager Loïc Detcheverry. The airline also operates weekly flights to Halifax, St John’s and Sydney (the one in Nova Scotia), and offers connections to neighbouring island Miquelon. Things are busiest in summer when the island of 5,500 habitants, welcomes around 14,000 tourists. The two Air Saint-Pierre aircraft – a 46-seat ATR 42-500 and a Cessna Reims-Aviation F406 with a nine-seat configuration – transport an average of over 40,000 passengers a year.
However, what the airline prides itself on most is medical flights to Canada. It was during a medical flight heading to Halifax, Canada, that a pregnant woman gave birth to a baby girl in the small airplane. “There was only the pilot and a technician to assist the midwife. The ‘baby’ is now in her mid twenties,” says Detcheverry.
Air Saint-Pierre facts
One ATR 42-500 (F-OFSP) with 46 seats. One Cessna Reims-Aviation F406 with an 8-9 seat configuration
Number of employees:
41 (based in Saint-Pierre and Canada)
Number of passengers:
45,000 in 2010
Uniforms: The air stewards and flight attendants wear simple blue uniforms.
Catering: Passengers are offered free coffee, soft drinks and cookies on the 45-minute flights to/from St John’s. A full meal including drinks and snack is served on the three-hour flight between the island and Montréal.
In-flight entertainment is kept to a minimum, but the airline offers a variety of complimentary reads, including the local weekly “L’Echo des Caps”.