CamBay questions airline safety

Hamlet to survey residents about their Northern airline experiences



IQALUIT — Hamlet officials in Cambridge Bay say travellers are questioning the quality of safety and service provided by airlines that serve the community.

Hamlet leaders have heard so many complaints they’ve decided to survey residents about the level of safety and customer service they’ve experienced on airplanes.

The mayor, Keith Peterson, says he’s worried that airlines are dangerous and offer shoddy service.

Peterson said he thinks mechanical problems on airplanes are so commonplace that travellers have come to expect them.

“Airplane flights are always getting cancelled because they’re going mechanical. There’s a question of airline safety. I mean, are the planes safe to fly on? People are getting worried,” he said.

“We’ve become increasingly desensitized to airline safety and service in Nunavut. We just accept what’s given to us.”

Peterson says high air fares and poor customer service have also become the norm in the North.

“Individuals and businesses and travellers at the airport come to us and generally express concern about the high cost of air transportation, the high cost of freight, and services don’t seem to be the same as they are in Yellowknife,” Peterson said.

In Nunavut, more than in any other part of Canada, people depend on airplanes for transportation.

“The only way to get around in Nunavut — the only viable way — is by airlines,” Peterson said.

It’s for that reason, he says, that he’s so eager to ensure that residents get the best air service possible.

The hamlet’s transportation survey will try to gauge what Cambridge Bay residents think of the safety measures and services they see at the airport.

The hamlet has hired people to go door-to-door with the survey, and it’s also posted on the community’s Web site.

The survey, which the hamlet began working on several months ago, asks residents for their opinions on everything from the helpfulness of airport staff to the quality of airplane meals.

But passenger safety is a major component of the survey. For example, it asks residents, “Do you feel safe flying into our airport?” and, “Do you feel safe flying on the planes that serve us?”

“We’ve become increasingly desensitized to airline safety and service in Nunavut.

We just accept what’s given to us.”

– Keith Peterson,

Cambridge Bay mayor

Hamlet officials also want to determine if the municipality should be in charge of the airport. Right now the airport is located within the municipal boundary, but it’s operated by Nunavut Airports, a division of the GN’s Department of Community Government and Transportation.

Survey participants will also rate the airlines that serve Cambridge Bay, including First Air, Canadian North, Kenn Borek Air and Kivalliq Air.

Representatives of Canadian North say they’re looking forward to the results.

“We certainly welcome any kind of feedback from our customers and anything we can collectively do to improve the services,” said Kelly Kaylo, Canadian North’s marketing director.

Kaylo said the airline hasn’t had any major complaints about either safety or service in Cambridge Bay.

She said Canadian North doesn’t see a high volume of passengers on its twice-weekly flights, although the airline transports lots of cargo to the community.

Still, she said, any comments about passenger or cargo services are welcome.

The mayor said that after the hamlet collects the completed surveys, it will forward the results to the airlines serving Cambridge Bay, as well as to the Nunavut government.

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