Nunavut government is “cautious” about new airline merger

GN calls for close monitoring to ensure minimal impact on Nunavut travellers

Nunavut’s minister of economic development and transportation, David Akeeagok, says a new pilot program in Taloyoak will speed up the process to get a licence to operate a motor vehicle. (File photo)

By Sarah Rogers

The Government of Nunavut says it “remains cautious” about the impact a newly approved airline merger could have on the territory.

On June 19, following a months-long review, Transport Canada gave the green light to Canadian North and First Air’s bid to become one. The approval is subject to a number of terms and conditions set to prevent the new airline from hiking airfares or reducing flight schedules.

Nunavut’s minister of economic development and transportation, David Akeeagok, responded on Thursday, June 20, saying the GN “intends to monitor the situation very closely.”

The territorial government has not said much publicly about the merger, instead saying its focus is keeping air travel accessible and affordable for Nunavummiut.

The GN did make a submission to Transport Canada during its review process, a document the government said it will table in the legislative assembly this fall.

Akeeagok has raised concerns that Nunavut Inuit have a huge stake in air travel, but little leverage in the new venture, which is owned by Inuit organizations in Nunavik and the Inuvialuit region.

“Given how critical this issue is for Nunavut, the GN asked the agencies to use their full regulatory authority to ensure the effects on routing, pricing and scheduling were minimized,” Akeeagok said on June 20.

“The GN has also requested comprehensive monitoring of operations after the merger, to ensure all terms and conditions are met.”

In fact, Transport Canada’s approval is subject to a monitoring agreement to ensure the merged airlines comply with those conditions, one of which requires regular financial reporting to the minister.

The merger also comes as the GN is about to award a new contract for its medical travel, duty travel, air freight and a newly added component—public travel—which requires bidders to include a percentage of seats to be made available to the general public at an economy class fare.

“We will continue our ongoing efforts to secure reliable, affordable government airline services for Nunavut, and we will not hesitate to voice our concerns if we see deterioration in service to our communities,” Akeeagok said on June 20.

The new airline is set to operate under Canadian North’s name, while using First Air’s livery, and would be headquartered in Ottawa.

Officials from the new Canadian North are expected to provide details about its new operations sometime next week.

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(6) Comments:

  1. Posted by Dazed and Amazed on

    Isn’t it great to see the governments sudden interest in “affordable… airline services.” How wonderful.

  2. Posted by And confused on

    This administration has no future foresight. It doesn’t function by looking into the future. It is reactionary. It hasn’t provide itself even a trail to follow. A failure from its beginnings. His staff should have had this on their radar, but as in most files using the NTEP report as an example. It was shelved.

  3. Posted by How about this… on

    I think the GN should get a report on what the findings will be from the merger and then shelf it for several years and lie about it through their teeth. I hope that they go the way of CDN in terms of food. Paying several thousand dollars to get a frozen bun is kind of messed up, right First Air?

  4. Posted by Northern Guy on

    The word on the street is that Air Canada has already set up an office in the Six Story in anticipation of TC’s announcement. They can’t start operations soon enough!

    • Posted by Scare Canada on

      Are you suggesting Air Canada is planning on resuming flights to Iqaluit??

  5. Posted by Reality on

    Will the merged airline still offer huge discounts based on the ethnicity of the traveller?

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