Northern airlines sign major codeshare agreement

“Canada’s North needs airline consolidation”


First Air announced a new codeshare agreement May 13 with Canadian North and Calm Air. (PHOTO BY SARAH ROGERS)

First Air announced a new codeshare agreement May 13 with Canadian North and Calm Air. (PHOTO BY SARAH ROGERS)

It’s not a merger, but First Air announced a new agreement May 13 with fellow northern airlines, with the goal to create smoother travel for passengers with connections.

First Air, Calm Air and Canadian North have signed a codeshare agreement on selected flights operated by all three airlines, which will start to be implemented next month.

Codeshare is a practice in which a flight operated by one airline is jointly marketed as a flight by one or more other airlines.

That way, customers can purchase a seat through each airline but the flight is actually operated by only one of the cooperating airlines — called the “operating carrier.”

The agreement is a far cry from the merger First Air and Canadian North attempted — unsuccessfully — to negotiate last year.

“A codeshare agreement is much less complex than a merger agreement where airlines combine to form a single organization,” said Brock Freisen, president and CEO of First Air. “However, many of the benefits of a merger can still be realized.”

Codesharing will allow all three parties to continue to operate independently, set competitive prices and offer seats and cargo space to their respective customers, First Air said.

“Introducing codeshare will allow for significantly improved flight schedules and greater choice for our customers,” said Bert van der Stege, vice president commercial at First Air, in the same release.

“It also improves the sustainability of the scheduled services of each individual airline,” he added. “Canada’s North needs airline consolidation. We are pleased to work with our two new airline partners and build on this proven and successful airline cooperation model.”

Here are some of the highlights of the new schedule for Nunavut-bound flights:

• Iqaluit — Ottawa: from Ottawa, First Air will operate every day at 9:15 a.m. and Canadian North will operate at 12:45 p.m.. Return flights to the South depart Iqaluit at 1:45 p.m. and 5:00 p.m.

• Iqaluit — Baffin: First Air will add flights from Iqaluit to Pond Inlet, Clyde River, Pangnirtung and Qikiqtarjuaq, operated in codeshare with Canadian North.

• Yellowknife — Cambridge Bay: Daily Boeing 737 flights between Yellowknife and Cambridge Bay will be implemented, operated by Canadian North.

• Yellowknife — Kugluktuk: ATR 42 flights between Yellowknife and Kugluktuk will be implemented daily, operated by First Air.

• Iqaluit — Rankin Inlet — Yellowknife: Combined service will continue with service three days per week. First Air will operate two frequencies and Canadian North will operate one frequency.

• Winnipeg — Rankin Inlet: First Air will operate 13 flights per week. In each direction, one of the two flights will stop in Churchill.

• Rankin Inlet — Kivalliq: Calm Air will operate double daily services between Rankin Inlet and all Kivalliq communities.These flights will be scheduled to connect with the First Air flights to and from Winnipeg.

First Air and Canadian North will launch their codeshare cooperation in August, while the agreement between First Air and Calm Air will be in place by June, the airline said.

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