Direct flights between Sanikiluaq and Iqaluit available until January 2023

Government of Nunavut studying viability of route to determine if it should be permanent

A Pilatus PC-12 rests on the tarmac at Iqaluit’s airport before takeoff. The aircraft is being used to carry up to eight passengers on two return flights each week between Iqaluit and Sanikiluaq as part of a direct flight pilot project by the Government of Nunavut. The project, launched in 2021, has been extended to January 2023. (Photo courtesy of Audrey Marquis-Drolet from Panorama Aviation)

By Madalyn Howitt

People can continue booking direct flights between Sanikiluaq and Iqaluit until at least January 2023.

The Government of Nunavut is extending a program that provides direct flights between the two communities in order to collect more data, a GN spokesperson said Thursday in an email to Nunatsiaq News.

“This extension is to ensure the data collected is reflective of anticipated passenger volumes and takes into consideration the impact of COVID-19 travel on the data,” said Chelsea Halvorson, acting communications director for executive and intergovernmental affairs.

The six-month pilot project was launched in July 2021, and was later extended by another six months in January 2022.  

Local politicians have long asked for a direct flight between Nunavut’s capital and its southernmost community, citing the hamlet’s isolation and extenuating complications from COVID-19 public health precautions on travel. 

Before the pilot project was launched, people flying to or from Sanikiluaq had to travel through Winnipeg to connect to other hamlets in Nunavut. This meant travellers coming from a southern province had to complete a 14-day isolation at one of the GN’s isolation hubs.  

“Another notable reason for this extension is that Sanikiluaq has not had any commercial accommodations available for almost 18 months, therefore travel into the community has been hindered and may have an impact on the current data,” Halvorson added. 

“The goal is to have the data reflect average use of travel to and from the community.”

Halvorson said the GN will determine at a later date if the route will eventually become permanent. 

Arctic Fresh Projects Ltd. and Panorama Aviation won the government’s contract to offer the flight in April 2021. 

The route includes two round trips per week, on Mondays and Thursdays. A one-way ticket is $1,207.

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