Air Greenland holds off on scheduled Iqaluit-Nuuk route for 2015

Airline to decide on route’s future “at some later point,” CFO says


Air Greenland’s Dash-8 aircraft won’t be running scheduled routes from Iqaluit to Nuuk this summer. (FILE PHOTO)

Air Greenland’s Dash-8 aircraft won’t be running scheduled routes from Iqaluit to Nuuk this summer. (FILE PHOTO)

Air Greenland won’t run any scheduled flights between Nuuk and Iqaluit this year, the airline’s chief financial officer, Christian Keldsen, confirmed March 9.

“It’s just for 2015, there’s a definite time-out,” Keldsen said from the company’s head office in Nuuk.

“Whether it will run next year is something we will need to decide at a later point. But it hasn’t been shut down for eternity.”

The airline ran a seasonal scheduled route between the Nunavut and Greenlandic capital cities for three consecutive summers, starting in 2012.

Passenger capacities on the Dash-8 turboprop planes were routinely well below 50 per cent, amounting to about 670 to 900 customers each summer.

“We’ve managed to break even for these three years,” Keldsen told Nunatsiaq News. “But just making break-even is not necessarily good for business in the long-term.

“We need to be making money by year three. That’s usually the rule of thumb.”

The airline actually concluded last summer that it would not run the scheduled route in 2015. The Greenlandic government then indicated that it would like the airline to keep it running another year, and offered financial support, Keldsen said.

“That’s actually what we’re waiting for now, to hear back from our political system on the future of the route,” he said.

Air Greenland and other airlines used to run scheduled flights from 1981 until 2001, Keldsen said.

The airline launched a new summer schedule from July to September in 2012, based on favourable projections for Greenland’s economy.

“There were lots of oil and mineral [exploration] activities and so on,” he said. “But everything just stalled in 2013, more or less.

“Not a lot of activity is going on over here, and that’s also affecting demand for air travel.”

Most customers, particularly in 2012 and 2013, were visitors using the route “to visit people on the other side,” Keldsen said.

“A lot of people hadn’t seen their families for many years.”

Many of those family connections go back to the 1981-2001 period of scheduled flight routes between Iqaluit and Eastern Canada at large, he said.

“There seems to be a slightly larger segment of visitors than we were expecting, but we also did get a lot of business travellers, of course.”

The CFO said his airline would need subsidies to keep the route running in 2015.

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