Canadian North, Air Inuit reduce Arctic air services

Changes, prompted by COVID-19, take effect Wednesday

Canadian North plans to reduce the number of flights across, and to and from the North, starting on Wednesday, March 18. (File photo)

By Jane George

Updated, March 18, 8:45 a.m.

Canadian North is reducing service on its routes to Arctic communities due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“To serve our customers while supporting the ongoing efforts of public health agencies to contain this outbreak, we will implement temporary schedule changes,” said Chris Avery, Canadian North’s president and CEO, in a release today.

This schedule change goes into effect on Wednesday, March 18.

Canadian North said the changes impact the following routes:

  • Ottawa-Iqaluit and Edmonton-Yellowknife-Inuvik, which will go from two flights a day to one.
  • Yellowknife-Rankin Inlet-Iqaluit, which will go from four flights a week to two.
  • Montreal-Kuujjuaq, which will go from two flights a day to one.

Makivik Corp., which owns Canadian North and Air Inuit, said in a release that medical and cargo services to the region would not be affected.

For smaller community routes, passenger service will be reduced from daily to every other day, except where demand is sufficient to warrant additional capacity, Canadian North’s release said.

“This schedule change will be in effect for the next seven days, however, we expect to extend this timeline in the near future,” Avery said in the release.

The airline’s team will talk with all levels of government, Inuit stakeholders and customers “to ensure that we understand their needs and priorities,” he said, calling it “an evolving situation.”

“We will continue to monitor our passenger and cargo loads and will make further adjustments as required, just as we normally do, albeit with heightened urgency,” Avery said.

Air Inuit is also planning to reduce its Nunavik flight schedule. (File photo)

Air Inuit plans to take similar measures to reduce its passenger service in the Ungava and Hudson regions of Nunavik, Makivik said.

Air Inuit has already announced preventive measures against COVID-19, as has Canadian North.

Nunavik leaders have called for travel restrictions to the region in response to COVID-19.

Makivik said people shouldn’t visit Nunavik unless it’s absolutely necessary. It’s the same message sent by several communities in Nunavut including the City of Iqaluit.

“We know the painful history of epidemics that have ravaged across the small Arctic communities over the years. Our elders remember the scourge of tuberculosis, as well as the rapid spread of German measles that killed many Inuit in the 1950s. Taking immediate action to essentially close the Arctic is important to protect our population from this new virus,” said Makivik president Charlie Watt in a news release.

Calm Air, which serves Nunavut’s Kivalliq communities, also said in an announcement posted on social media late Tuesday that it was also reducing its schedule.

“In light of COVID-19 and the changes in demand Calm Air is continuing to take precautionary measures to best protect our passengers and staff. That being said we are temporarily reducing our schedule.”

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(10) Comments:

  1. Posted by Northener on

    Now that the government has stopped most work travel theirs less people flying and alot more empty seats, so canadian north is saving themselves money at the convenience of it’s customers as usual by schedualing less flights. Don’t try an butter it up to being a concerned airline, us northeners know better

    • Posted by Missing information on

      If you had actually read the press release rather than the small tidbits that the author of this article decided to cherry pick you would notice that at the beginning of the press release it says

      “Canadian North and all other airlines are experiencing a sudden and significant decrease in passenger demand. This represents a severe reduction in the revenue that we rely on to operate our business. This is largely due to the following factors and the accompanying unprecedented economic downturn that has emerged over the past several days:”

      It then lists the reasons. They hid nothing. They buttered nothing up. You just are negligent and don’t bother going past one headline. I suggest you look at more than one news source.

    • Posted by Wow on

      Wow really, they are doing it for your safety, how can anyone think like that when the world is in chaos I am just glad they are taking steps to help prevent the decease from coming up, sooner or later it will come.

  2. Posted by Me on

    In this very difficult time in our history. I am greatful to be served by Inuit owned airline. And we know how difficult to operate in the north. I wish this sickness will go away soon in Jesus name.

    • Posted by I believe on

      Pope Francis prayed in 2 churches a couple days ago. He prayed for pandemic to end. Expect divine intervention soon.?

      • Posted by funny on

        Just because it was Pope Francis who prayed in two churches, the divine intervention will take place? Is he magic?

        There are many others who have been praying too. Their prayers don’t count?

  3. Posted by The Old Trapper on

    Flight reductions are to be expected. GN duty travel is limited to essential travel. Elective medical travel is postponed, and I would think that only serious cases will be sent south, because of the hospitals wanting to keep space for Covid-19 patients, and so Nunavit patients don’t contact the virus and bring it back to the north.
    No tourists are going to be coming anytime soon, and any business travel is essential travel only. Just a guess but I would think that this would amount to a 75% reduction right now, and if this continues into the summer, possibly as high as a 90% reduction.
    Hopefully the airlines will be able to screen passengers that are still traveling. If we take the hard steps now, social distancing, quarantines, business and government shutdowns we could put this behind us in 6 to 8 weeks.
    Do I believe enough people will do the right thing voluntarily? Nope. I think that the government will end up taking draconian (but necessary) measures in another month once the situation is truly out of hand, and that it will last 3 – 4 months, and be pretty grim. I actually hope that people prove me wrong.

  4. Posted by Kuujjuamiuk on


  5. Posted by Leery on

    Good to hear! I hope that will reduce the steady stream of alcohol and drugs coming in everyday. But then the users will target you when they’re jonesing.

  6. Posted by Lifelong Northerner on

    The “Northerner”, please read and understand first before you start creating “fake news” and “negativity”. There’s enough of it going on, don’t need more of it – positivity please and thank you..

    We have too many “facebook warriors”that just complain about anything and everything. There is a always a light at the end of the tunnel if we just focus on the good things of life, we all have so much to be thankful for – count your blessings!!.

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