Harbour Air hires new CEO

Industry veteran Bert van der Stege joins company from WestJet's Swoop

Bert van der Stege's most recent posting was as head of commercial and finace at WestJet Group's low-cost carrier Swoop | submitted

Harbour Air Group founder Greg McDougall is no longer CEO at the company, as he shifted today to become the seaplane airline's chairman.

Effective today, the airline's CEO is Bert van der Stege – a man who had been head of commercial and finace at WestJet Group's low-cost carrier Swoop.

Van der Stege brings more than 20 years' worth of airline industry experience. McDougall said van der Stege also has a track record of driving profitable growth, building brand loyalty and fostering a corporate culture based on values of safety, service, innovation and team spirit. 

Before van der Stege went to Swoop, he was vice-president and chief commercial officer at Halifax Stanfield International Airport, and vice-president of commercial and chief restructuring officer at First Air. 

He also held positions at RwandAir, Arik Air and Lufthansa Group. 

"I am motivated by the opportunities ahead and honoured to be carrying on the legacy that Greg and his team created," van der Stege said in a statement. 

McDougall, who launched Harbour Air in 1982 as a two-plane operation, plans to continue to provide input into his airline's strategy to develop planes that operate entirely on electric batteries, according to the airline. Harbour Air now operates 40 aircraft and has 10 bases and more than 500,000 passengers annually – sufficient for the airline to dub itself as North America's largest seaplane airline.

McDougall will also help promote and advocate for innovation and safety in the industry, according to the airline.

He piloted the first flight on Harbour Air's first e-plane in December 2019.

"I am immensely proud of how the company has grown over the years” McDougall said in a statement. “It has been a privilege to work with the team and build the organization into what is today an iconic Canadian company."

Harbour Air’s long-term President, Randy Wright, will take on a special advisory role to both van der Stege and the airline's board of directors.

Wright has been with Harbour Air since 2001, and has steered the airline's significant growth in that period, which includes expanding the airline's scheduled route network south of the border, to Seattle.