Nunavik airlines suspend special fare programs

Move made to discourage any non-essential travel, as COVID-19 cases grow throughout Quebec

Nunavik’s two major airlines have opted to suspend their special fare programs to discourage any non-essential travel while COVID-19 cases continue to grow throughout Quebec. (Photo by Mark Taylor)

By Sarah Rogers

(Updated on Oct. 20 at 6 p.m.)

One of Nunavik’s major airlines has opted to suspend its special fare programs that offers discounted airfares to Inuit beneficiaries in the region.

Canadian North said on Friday, Oct. 16, that it had suspended its Ilak beneficiary fare program, which normally applies to its Montreal–Kuujjuaq route.

Air Inuit similarly announced on Oct. 15 its plans to suspend its Ilaujuq program. But the airline moved to re-instate the program on Oct. 19 for Nunavik travel, saying “the regional risk level was now contained.”

Under those programs, Inuit beneficiaries of the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement are offered rebates on either round-trip airline tickets or the shipment of certain cargo.

The decision was made in partnership with Air Inuit to discourage non-essential travel, Canadian North said in the release. Makivik is a joint shareholder in Canadian North with the Inuvialuit Development Corp., while the Nunavik Inuit birthright organization is the sole shareholder in Air Inuit.

Responding to criticism from Nunavimmiut on social media, Makivik President Charlie Watt denied that the organization made the call to suspend the rebates: that decision lies with its subsidiary companies, which have their own independent boards of directors, he said in a separate Oct. 16 release.

“Makivik is the only entity in Nunavik whose mandate it is to represent the interests of the Inuit and their well-being,” Watt said.

“It is in this capacity that I have raised the flag for our people and institutions to be fully prepared for the possible impact of COVID-19 during a second wave and to be prepared with strict measures to protect ourselves.”

Canadian North echoed those concerns.

“Montreal has been designated as a COVID-19 ‘red zone’ due to a significant increase in cases and there have also been multiple new cases reported within Nunavik during recent weeks,” Canadian North said in a news release.

Last week, on Oct. 13, two Nunavimmiut tested positive for COVID-19 when they returned home from travel to Toronto. Another three residents tested positive for the virus in southern Quebec.

As a result, health officials in Nunavik have advised residents against any non-essential travel.

“We expect that this is a temporary measure and look forward to resuming Ilak bookings when conditions improve,” Canadian North said, noting the airline would honour existing Ilak reservations.

Air Inuit also announced that it would be temporarily cancelling flights between Nunavik and La Grande—a common stop on flights between Puvirnituq and Montreal. Passengers can continue to travel from Montreal to La Grande, though bookings must be done through Air Inuit’s call centre.

“These decisions were taken in order to limit the spread of the coronavirus in Nunavik,” Air Inuit said in its Oct. 15 release. “We thank you for your cooperation and hope to be able to restore service shortly.”


An earlier version of this article said Canadian North’s decision to suspend the Ilak fare was made in response to a request by Makivik Corp. The airline later issued a new release to clarify that the decision was made in partnership with Air Inuit. This story has also been updated to include Air Inuit’s later decision to reinstate its Ilaujuq program.

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(0) Comments:

  1. Posted by Aeroplan on

    In the meantime people are authorized to travel with aeroplan, weird, why is that? This is not acceptable, aeroplan shouldn’t be allow and all the people that are non essential service shouldn’t be allow to travel in and out of the region, especially that there is nobody to control the quarantine.

  2. Posted by Inuit denies Inuit on

    Inuit and Inuit beneficiaries, please take note. This is why Inuit are getting no progress in this life. It’s not the government, the Europeans, the south, the white , that’s keeping Inuit from a healthy journey in becoming educated and successful. It’s Inuit that’s keeping Inuit blinded to the light. You know why you can’t buy beer and other alcohol like other Canadians? It’s Inuit they keeps Inuit , in child like restrictions. It’s control issues from Inuit to Inuit. Now let’s laugh or cry , but at least the truth should be known. Inuit keeps Inuit in child like living. While the world passes them by.

  3. Posted by Suspend the food program on

    Suspend the food program too, so we won’t gather in the stores to buy our groceries. While this may seem extreme, if only Inuit could use it as a controller, I bet it would be implemented immediately.

  4. Posted by Yes yes on

    You talk about self determination and self governance. I’m telling you now, as I know the difference in that it will never happen in a life time near you or me or baby’s born in next 50 years. But if ever hypothetically, it happened, Inuit society would exist like the North Korea’s and China, where human rights would be second worse to none. As a matter of the facts of life, it’s only the government’s of Canada and Quebec that’s keeping us in Nunavik in any civilized state of affairs, with human rights.

  5. Posted by Free for all on

    Sad to see this, again it’s the good citizens of Nunavik that are paying the price at the end of it, we are like hostage while anybody else can come here the way they want in Nunavik!

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