Codeshare deal not working for western Nunavut, KIA says
“It’s just really bad”
CAMBRIDGE BAY — If Canadian North’s vice president Peter McCart hoped for positive feedback on the airline’s codeshare arrangement with First Air while in Cambridge Bay Oct. 7 at the Kitikmeot Inuit Association’s annual general meeting, he was disappointed.
“There’s got to be a better system,” KIA president Stanley Anablak said when he introduced McCart to the gathering.
Anablak slammed the new schedule changes in the Kitikmeot region, which came into effect with the codeshare agreement, launched between Canadian North and First Air in July.
This sees the two major northern airlines teaming up on north-south connections to, from, and within the Kitikmeot and Baffin regions of Nunavut.
Anablak said the new codeshare schedule made it cheaper for the KIA to charter delegates to and from Cambridge Bay for the AGM than to fly them in on scheduled flights from the region’s other four communities.
That’s because, since the codeshare agreement was implemented, you find more north-south connections through Yellowknife than scheduled flights between Kitikmeot communities.
This can add up to an extra flight segment (and costs) as well as added expenses for delays and layovers on flights that are now often full to capacity, McCart heard from delegates at the KIA AGM.
“It’s just really bad” Charlie Lyall of Taloyoak told McCart about codeshare’s impact.
The new deal may be working for the airlines, he said, but it’s not good for the Kitikmeot region.
That opinion was shared by many others at the AGM, including Lucy Taipana of Kugluktuk.
She said “code share is not functioning for our community,” which has seen cuts in jet service since the arrangement started.
She cited delays in travel and of cargo — including that of blood samples sent to Ottawa, which arrived too late and then had to be redone and sent again.
Catherine Qirnuq of Kugaaruk spoke of delays and added expenses, while another delegate said he received an estimate of three months to have an all-terrain vehicle sent to him by air.
Yet another delegate said doctors had to give him an alternate medication when the prescription he was waiting for was delayed in transit.
McCart defended the codeshare arrangement, saying it is designed to make the airlines sustainable in difficult economic times.
But he also promised to re-evaluate the schedule in the Kitikmeot region.
The codeshare agreement’s impact in western Nunavut first surfaced at the AGM Oct. 6, with delegates complaining about delays and other snafus in medical travel, and the delivery of prescriptions, to Paul Okalik, Nunavut’s health minister.
“It’s unacceptable,” Okalik said about the impacts of the codeshare.
To push for change, before the AGM wrapped up Oct. 7, the KIA delegates resolved to lobby Canadian North and First Air “to investigate options for improving air services” to the Kitikmeot region.
The resolution noted concerns with delays in delayed medical travel, freight delays such as “prescription medications deliveries being delayed, impacts on Canada Post mail delivery and passenger service delays, and a drastic reduction in available flights in Kitikmeot communities.”
These cause “residents of the Kitikmeot who depend on air travel services, much grief, the KIA resolution said.
McCart meets with mayors and SAOs from around Nunavut Oct. 8 at the AGM of the Nunavut Association of Municipalities, which takes place in Cambridge Bay from Oct. 8 to Oct. 10.