Government of Nunavut has provided $24M to support airlines to date

GN allocated financial support for two airlines until the end of June

George Hickes, Nunavut’s finance minister, said the Government of Nunavut is providing additional support to northern airlines during the pandemic. (File photo)

By Emma Tranter

Updated Tuesday June 9 at 3 p.m.

The Government of Nunavut announced today that it is providing two of the territory’s airlines with additional support during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The GN provided Calm Air and Canadian North with $9.6 million between March 30 and April 30.

It received around $5 million from the federal government in May to help support the two airlines, as well.

The GN announced today that it will provide an additional $9.8 million to Canadian North and an additional $6.4 million to Calm Air.

“As restrictions start getting lifted across the country, we want to make sure that our airlines also have that stability,” George Hickes, Nunavut’s finance minister, said at a news conference earlier today.

With this additional money, the GN has spent over $15 million to support Canadian North during the pandemic and $8.9 million to support Calm Air.

This support covers April, May and June, Hickes said.

Hickes said those initial negotiations were helpful in determining where the airlines need support.

“It’s really solidified the numbers and identified the needs,” Hickes said.

“Threat of COVID-19 has not yet passed,” minister says

Hickes also reminded Nunavummiut that the territory’s travel restrictions will be one of the last public health measures lifted.

“I can’t emphasize enough that non-essential travel outside of the territory is still not recommended.… Right now, travel to Nunavut represents the single biggest risk of COVID-19. The travel ban and the 14-day isolation requirements for returning Nunavummiut are meant to mitigate this risk and keep our territory safe,” Hickes said.

“As we continue to look at ways of easing public health measures, and returning to the activities that we enjoy, we must remain diligent and aware that the threat of COVID-19 has not yet passed.”

The Government of Nunavut also announced a new process for Nunavut residents who need to reserve a stay at an isolation hub. Residents must now email Critical workers applying to come into the territory should email

Hickes said people “should submit an isolation request form as soon as they know their plans for travel” so the GN can accommodate travellers in the coming month.

Workplaces across the territory also opened today, including GN offices.

There are still no confirmed or probable cases of COVID-19 in Nunavut. As of today, 1,166 have been investigated and 119 are still under investigation.

A previous version of this story said that the GN will renegotiate a contract with Calm Air and Canadian North at the end of June. In fact, the current financial agreement is not a contract. It will be up to the GN to continue to financially support the airlines in the coming months.

As well, a previous version of this story said that the GN paid Calm Air and Canadian North $2.25 million per week from March 30 to April 30. It is more accurate to say that the GN paid the airlines $9.6 million over that period.

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(8) Comments:

  1. Posted by Wow! on

    Wow! That is a lot of money for the airlines in a short period of time, they must be smiling.

  2. Posted by Nearly-Closed-Daycare on

    So the government was able to invest $24m. in airlines yet daycares across the territory are now unable to operate at even 1/2 capacity due to a lack of staff? Now at least 1/2 of parents in NU can’t return to work.

    What a great investment GN!

  3. Posted by Shawn of the North on

    Please remember that food comes from the south, along with many items that are in need. The airlines are only flying a few people up north or south. They are trying to keep jobs going and keep the planes ready for when COVID-19 winds down.

  4. Posted by The Old Trapper on

    Airlines have a lot of fixed costs, probably more than most other businesses.
    To start there are the aircraft themselves, which cost multi-millions of dollars each. These are generally “owned” by the smaller airlines which means that the airline has gone to the banks for a loan to buy the aircraft. Banks still want their monthly loan payments whether the aircraft are flying and bringing in revenue or not.
    Next are the facilities. Airlines have office buildings, freight warehouses, maintenance hangars, and leases on airport locations. Again banks and airports want their monthly loan/lease payments, whether the airline flies or not.
    Pilots especially but also flight attendants and maintenance personnel have recurring testing and standards to meet. Aircraft must be inspected both on a usage basis (hours flown), but also a calendar basis. Parts on an aircraft may be subject to calendar constraints as well.
    Of course all other record keeping needs to be tracked and documented. Airlines are probably paying minimum monthly amounts on items such as crew scheduling and reservations systems, even if they are not taking new bookings.
    Not flying a regular schedule for even a few months would likely bankrupt a Canadian North and Calm Air. The GN and federal governments have actually acted responsibly by providing funding to the airlines during the Covid-19 shutdown. When the GN decides it is time to open up the airlines will be able to resume scheduled service which after all is an essential service.
    Covid-19 may be the impetus needed for the GN to decide to work closer with the airlines as they now recognize the essential nature of the service.

    • Posted by Government t Airlines on

      Government should be owning part of the airlines instead of giving them free money. Its like privatizing roads, why should the public be subject to private corporations who can just stop running and starve everyone out?

  5. Posted by audit trail on

    …Of course all other record keeping needs to be tracked and documented….

    As this 24 million dollars is Government Public Money there needs to be a public document indicating where the 24 million has been spent. ( a complete break down including all expenditures). They cannot say we are a private company so we don’t have to do this…it is tax payer funds so yes they do. If the airlines do not produce a 3 rd party audit of the spending they should be held accountable to pay back sums.

    empty seats paid for on reduced service levels.

    Airlines have not lost a cent of cargo funds as they have been shipping normal cargo.

  6. Posted by Jeff on

    Covid will be with us for a few years yet,and we in Nunavut will have to live with all of this,this is just the start .

  7. Posted by GN airways on

    Would it not be better for the GN to buy shares or start a small airline to fly medical patents and staff?
    PC24, airbus A220-100? Just for passengers no cargo. They spend so much money annually a crown corp GN Air or Air GN might be an idea.

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