Four bidders vying for Nunavut’s new air travel contracts

Nunavut hopes to have new medical, duty travel contract signed by mid-2019

The Government of Nunavut’s new medical and duty air travel contracts include a public travel component, which requires bidders to offer a percentage of seats to the public at an economy-class fare. (File photo)

By Sarah Rogers

The Government of Nunavut is just a few months away from signing new agreements it hopes will change air travel for the better.

The GN recently closed its request for proposals for new medical and duty travel contracts .

Following both a study and public consultations, it opted to combine medical and duty travel for its new round of contracts, while allowing companies to bid on up to seven routes throughout the territory.

This new set of contracts also includes air freight for general cargo and a public travel component, which requires bidders to offer a percentage of seats to be made available to the general public at an economy-class fare.

The final register lists four applicants that have filed a total of 20 proposals: 16 from Calm Air, two from Canadian North, one from First Air and one from North Star Air, owned by the Northwest Company.

Now, Nunavut’s Department of Community and Government Services will go through those proposals, with the goal of signing new agreements by the summer.

The new contracts would come into effect on January 2020.

The request for proposals represents a major shift in how the government approaches its own air travel.

This time around, the GN is looking for airlines to bid on seven different geographical regions or routes, including Nunavut’s three main regions plus major southern connections, like Iqaluit−Ottawa and Rankin Inlet−Winnipeg.

The GN plans to award the majority of the business in each region or route to a single carrier.

That sets the territory up for another potential monopoly, as the North’s two largest airlines—First Air and Canadian North—move themselves into position to merge.

With no Nunavut stake in either of those two Nunavik- and Inuvialuit-owned airlines, the GN is hoping to use its own buying power to influence ticket prices, through the contract’s public travel component.

The new contract does not require airlines to operate as many weekly flights to Nunavut communities as the current contract does; in some cases, dropping that requirement from eight to three per week.

But the Nunavut government has said it cannot say what flight schedule changes will be implemented until contracts are signed with the successful carriers.

Nunavut spent more than $60 million on medical travel and about $15 million on duty travel in 2017-18.

New contracts would be for three-year periods, with the option to renew those contracts twice, first for two years and then for one year.

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(7) Comments:

  1. Posted by Money Hungry on

    Not enough that northmart pay top dogs millions and fly around i a jazzy company jet then cry poor that “we only make a few cents”. Now they want to reach deeper into your pockets. Greedy and self serving. Good luck getting any personal cargo that competes with there stores

    • Posted by Northern Guy on

      Just the same old same old. When First Air and/or Canadian had all the cargo contracts getting anything onto their planes in a timely manner was nigh on impossible. Canadian is great right now because they don’t have any big contracts so you can get stuff to/from Ottawa in a couple of days.

  2. Posted by Still not looking at the whole picture on

    It’s nice to post what they spent but are they tracking the wastage? Medical travel is a mess. People flying to Ottawa and then back because their was no paperwork then they got there. Parents flying down with their kids for operations and missing them because they are under the weather. Also extra days in the boarding home aren’t free. People missing flights double bookings…

    Then Duty travel which forces employees to use one airline even when it might not be the quickest route. Sometimes meaning extra days of hotels, per diem and the much loved OT.

    It’s nice to say air travel is costing a ton (which it is) but you have to look at the whole picture when it comes to travel!

    • Posted by James Rondockett on

      Absolutely! The bigger picture points to immense inefficiencies at the administrative level as well as at the grassroots level. The amount of money being wasted on medical travel due to double bookings, lack of paperwork at health care facilities in the south is definitely a problem. Even more of a problem is people on medical travel missing their flights, missing their appoints for no good reason, travelling with a whole whack of people for “support”. Then add the GN’s inability to bring ONE doctor north instead of flying MANY people south makes the whole scene of medical travel a complete disaster.

  3. Posted by Medical traveller on

    It would be better to use calm air in kivalliq region to fly it to Churchill, and then use the jet service to Winnipeg from Chuchill.

    Theres too many cancelled flights for jets to and from Rankin Inlet, and there is no inuit centre in Rankin inlet..

    • Posted by Nunavutmiutaq on

      Rankin Inlet as a hub has screwed up travel for sure. It was easier to travel through Churchill to get to Winnipeg. Rankin poor weather and weekly runway issues make it unpleasant to travel.

  4. Posted by Kitikmeot on

    How about regulating the duty travel here in the Kitikmeot costing thousands of extra $$ per trip. Employees that go YCB-YCO take the opportunity to go to Yellowknife overnight to do there little “personal” holiday. They fly out of YCB, pass through YCO and overnight in Yellowknife. Next day they fly to YCO from YZF which they could have saved GNU a lot of money if they stopped off the first day they passed through YCO.

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