Upstart partnership takes aim at Iqaluit-Ottawa-Halifax route

Take that First Air, Canadian North: a $499 one-way fare

By NUNATSIAQ NEWS

FlySarvaq will use Nolinor Aviation's Boeing 737 aircraft and pilots on a new scheduled service that will start flying May 6 this year. (FILE PHOTO)


FlySarvaq will use Nolinor Aviation’s Boeing 737 aircraft and pilots on a new scheduled service that will start flying May 6 this year. (FILE PHOTO)

Nolinor Aviation, the Montreal-based charter carrier, has teamed up with Iqaluit partners to offer an Iqaluit-Ottawa-Halifax scheduled air service for an eye-popping introductory fare: $499 one way.

It’s called Fly Sarvaq, an arrangement between Nolinor and Iqaluit’s Sarvaq Aviation, run by Adamie Itorcheak.

“Fly Sarvaq understands that every dollar counts when planning travel and ask for support from Nunavummiut when making their summer holiday, business, medical and other travel plans,” Fly Sarvaq’s Jan. 28 news release said.

Fly Sarvaq will start accepting bookings March 1 and its inaugural flight will take off May 6, using 737-200 jets operated by Nolinor.

Nolinor has for many years supplied air charter services to mining companies, such as Baffinland Iron Mines Corp., for whom they fly workers every week to and from the airport at Kitchener-Waterloo, Ont.

The Inuit-owned Sarvaq Aviation, from its base at the Iqaluit airport, now offers logistical and other services to clients in Nunavut, especially those serving remote locations.

The new venture marks their first foray into scheduled services — and is aimed at consumers who are sick and tired of paying escalating Iqaluit-Ottawa fares charged by First Air and Canadian North.

“It is our hope that this service will create significant possibilities for Nunavummiut looking to travel south, as well as open up more opportunities for people to visit Nunavut,” Adamee Itorcheak, the president of Sarvaq, and a partner in Fly Sarvaq, said in a news release.

“Imagine being able to arrive from Nunavut and connect with upward of 30 flights going across the country or even internationally, or to travel to or from Arctic Bay to Ottawa in one day?”

As of Jan. 28, under a system-wide sale that ends Jan. 29, First Air was charging $887.19 for a one-way fare from Ottawa to Iqaluit, and $861.29 per flight if you opted for a return flight.

That rises later this year to $1,313.20 and $1,287.22 per flight for return. This past October, an Iqaluit-Ottawa return fare would have cost $2,600.41.

But Fly Sarvaq has found a way — for an introductory period — to sell one-way fares at $499.

The company says customers may start booking flights — during business hours — starting March 1, through its call centre at 1-844-9SARVAQ.

You will also be able to book flights through their website flysarvaq.com.

The new partnership pitched its new offering Jan. 28 at the Northern Lights 2016 trade in Ottawa, at a launch event in the Westin Hotel.

That launch comes during a week in which Nunavut’s established air carriers, First Air, Canadian North and Calm Air, fended off even more criticism of their codeshare agreements at a full caucus meeting Jan. 26 inside the legislature.

Nova Scotia business interests also welcome the new service.

“This opportunity strengthens the bridge between our two regions, and we are excited to share the news with businesses across our province,” Laurel Broten, the president and CEO of Nova Scotia Business Inc. said in the news release. “This direct link allows Nova Scotia companies to ship goods and deliver services to customers in Nunavut faster and more efficiently.”

In a statement, Bert van der Stege, the First Air vice president, said Jan. 29 that his company isn’t afraid of competition.

“We welcome competition. As always, we will continue to offer competitive pricing in every market we serve. Northerners appreciate our high service and safety standards, our extensive network and our devoted 70 years of reliability and trust. We are confident that our customers will continue to count on us,” van der Stege said.

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