Northern airlines trim passenger service to the basics
Only bottled water is now available on Canadian North, Calm Air, Air Inuit
If you’re travelling in Nunavut and Nunavik, be ready to eat before you board or bring along a snack of your own.
As of this week, northern airlines are only handing out bottled water to passengers.
Hot meals, alcoholic beverages and other treats have been gone for weeks. First, the airlines cut the hot meal service. Then they switched to cold meals and snacks and bottled drinks, before the most recent decision to offer only water.
Canadian North said on Tuesday, March 31, that it had temporarily suspended meal and snack service on all its flights “to safeguard the well-being of our passengers, employees and the communities we serve by limiting onboard interaction.”
“Thank you for your patience and understanding as we support the efforts of public health authorities to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus by encouraging physical distancing wherever we can.”
Calm Air, which serves Nunavut’s Kivalliq region, is also temporarily discontinuing its in-flight beverage and snack services, including meals, effective Thursday, April 2.
“We will continue to provide each passenger with bottled water. This change is to avoid any non-essential personal contact and encourage social distancing on board our aircraft,” the airline said in an online message.
Air Inuit has also taken similar measures, which mean meals and snacks will no longer be served.
“Beverages service is discontinued. Only on-demand individual water bottles will be served when needed,” the airline said on Tuesday on social media.
With respect to aircraft cleaning and sanitization, Air Inuit said it has been implementing even more measures intended to minimize the risk for employees and passengers.
Two weeks ago, Nunavik’s regional airline stepped up measures to prevent the new coronavirus from spreading, and then last week, only days ahead of the announcement of the first confirmed COVID-19 case, the region introduced new mandatory screening for air travellers.
Air travel to Nunavik is restricted to residents heading home post-quarantine and those working in essential services such as police officers, health-care workers and maintenance crews.
Scheduled cargo shipments to most communities continue, as does travel for medical appointments.
But in Salluit, where the airport was shut down after the region’s first COVID-19 case was confirmed in the community, officials say no personal cargo is coming in until further notice.
Meanwhile, Air Inuit has reduced its aircraft passenger capacity by about 50 per cent to allow for employee-passenger distancing.
And flight attendants, as well as pilots of open-cabin small aircraft, will wear masks as a precautionary measure.