COVID-19 prompts Air Inuit to cut back flight schedule
Changes come into effect on March 22 as health board urges Nunavik residents to stay home
Big cutbacks in scheduled flights are ahead for passengers who want to travel on Air Inuit to Nunavik or within the northern Quebec region.
As of March 22, Air Inuit’s schedule will be “considerably decreased to minimum service maintaining medevac and essential cargo deliveries to the communities,” the carrier said on Wednesday, March 18, in an online announcement.
Air Inuit is doing that by cutting back the number of flights and destinations.
On Monday, for example, this means the number of scheduled flights along Hudson Bay will drop from nine to five, and from 12 scheduled flights along Ungava Bay to eight, and from four along the Lower North Shore to two.
Wabush is no longer listed as a destination.
Charter flights are also restricted, Air Inuit said.
The announcement follows earlier schedule changes this week by the other Makivik Corp.-owned airline, Canadian North, and a release from Makivik last Friday that said, “Do not come to Nunavik unless you really have to.”
Air Inuit said that passengers who are checking in will be now required to answer two questions provided by the authorities that will determine whether they are authorized to travel.
“In addition, for the health and safety of our employees and other passengers and in accordance with governmental recommendations, we emphasize that everyone limit their travel to essential travel only and remind that passengers with symptoms related to COVID-19 do not travel on board scheduled or chartered Air Inuit flights,” said Pita Aatami, Air Inuit’s president and CEO.
Any passenger who presents symptoms related to COVID-19 will be denied check-in or boarding or will be advised to disembark, he said.
After limiting meal service to cold meals on flights, now only individual beverages such as cans, juice boxes and small bottles will be served on board Air Inuit flights. Coffee and tea service has been discontinued.
“We are prepared and our corporate preparedness action plan is following its course. Air Inuit remains pro-active through these challenging circumstances and will be adapting its plan as the situation evolves,” Aatami said.
On Thursday, March 19, in his daily news conference, Quebec Premier François Legault said no regions of Quebec are closed to travel, but he said it’s important not to travel from one Quebec region to another.
Still, the Nunavik Regional Board of Health and Social Services said that day that “non-essential travel from the South to Nunavik must be postponed and that residents of Nunavik must limit their travel to the South.”
“Travel for medical treatments and conditions that cannot be postponed will continue,” the health board said.