First Air responds to letter of complaint from Kimmirut

“Given the associated expenses of flying to Kimmirut, our fares are comparable to the fares for other small communities”


Thank you for your letter dated April 21 and published in the Nunatsiaq online edition.

As always, we appreciate customer feedback, as it helps us better our operations and service. We hope that this letter can help clarify some of the issues or questions you have raised. Most importantly, we want to show you that, as the airline of the North, we care about all 33 communities we serve, including Kimmirut.

When comparing northern and southern airline costs, it is important to consider the differences in demand and geography, including the following:

• because of high demand, southern airlines can keep prices lower by keeping their planes in the air with much greater frequency;

• low volumes of cargo flown to smaller communities are costly and generate little revenue for Northern airlines.

• northern fuel prices are our single largest operational expense; and

• northern airlines face higher maintenance costs because of aging infrastructure at community airports. For example, gravel runways double our cost of maintenance compared to paved runways.

We’re working hard not to pass on our costs to our customers and to strategically reduce our cost base wherever possible, while still offering a quality flight experience and the highest standard of safety.

In addition, we would like to see more investment in airports, navigation systems, runways and other safety and operational related projects that would allow us to lower our costs and provide better service.

It is our opinion that government support is essential to maintaining vital infrastructure that we use on a daily basis in the North.

We believe that given the associated expenses of flying to Kimmirut, our fares are comparable to the fares for other small communities we fly to within the Arctic.

In the past, we have offered promotions to and from Kimmirut, including a promotional inter-community sales campaign last January, which had discounted fares of 59 per cent for the Kimmirut market. We intend to continue to run these promotions when we can!

We are glad you mentioned the QIB10 fare and we are committed to maintaining that program to offer an economically viable option to your community for beneficiaries.

It is also important to note that weather in the North can be very challenging for airlines, and this is a factor that is beyond our control. Safety will always be our number one priority at First Air, and this can mean that we are unable to fly during periods of reduced visibility or significant icing.

We understand your concerns around cancellations and we are committed to rescheduling aircraft as long as weather permits it.

Finally, I want to personally reassure you that First Air does care. Customer satisfaction, safety and trusted relationships are key for us and the communities we serve.

To show you that we do care about your community, I am pleased to advise you that Kimmirut is on our list for community outreach including the hockey gear donation events with our partner Project North.

If you are interested, I can make myself available for further questions or a face-to-face meeting at a time that is favourable for you, either in Iqaluit or Kimmirut.

René Armas Maes
Director Sales and Marketing
First Air

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Nunatsiaq News welcomes letters to the editor. But we are under no obligation to publish any given letter at any given time.

In our print edition, we usually print letters on a first-come, first-served, space-available basis. In our online edition, we usually print letters as soon as we are able to prepare them for publication.

All letters are edited for length, grammar, punctuation, spelling, taste and libel. You may withhold your name by request, but we must know who you are before we publish your letter.

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