Nunavut government to launch trial air service between Sanikiluaq and Iqaluit

Request for proposals calls for 2 weekly flights between Nunavut communities starting in May

The Government of Nunavut has awarded a new air travel contract to an Igloolik-based company, which will start operating flights between Sanikiluaq and Iqaluit later this month. (File photo)

By Nunatsiaq News

The Government of Nunavut is looking to launch scheduled flights between Iqaluit and Sanikiluaq, a community that’s not currently connected by air to anywhere in the territory.

The territorial government issued a request for proposals earlier this week, seeking an air carrier to operate two weekly flights between Iqaluit and the community of about 900 on the Belcher Islands.

The territory is giving the air service a trial run: the government contract is looking for an airline to operate those flights for a six-month period, starting in May through to December, though the tender provides the option to extend the contract by an additional 18 months.

No direct flights exist between Sanikiluaq and any other Nunavut community.

Currently, Sanikiluaq residents have the option of flying south to Winnipeg on Calm Air. The community is also served by Air Inuit through Nunavik, though that airline has halted commercial flights to and from the community since the pandemic started.

Leaders in Sanikiluaq have long called for better air services to and from the community, and that call got louder as the COVID-19 pandemic required travellers to quarantine for a two-week period any time they left the territory.

“The lack of scheduled airline services to the community has had a major impact,” Hudson Bay MLA Allan Rumbolt told the Nunavut legislature last month.

The proposed flights would operate on Mondays and Thursdays, in a small aircraft that could carry a minimum of eight passengers, the tender indicated.

The air carrier would be required to advertise and sell tickets to both the GN and the public; the government would guarantee the purchase of six seats per leg.

The request for proposals opened on April 12 and closes April 26.

Sanikiluaq mayor Johnnie Cookie has long advocated for Nunavut flights from his community. He penned a letter to the territorial government last year, using the example of a Nunavut Arctic College student from Sanikiluaq whose recent trip to Iqaluit required a two-week stay in isolation and five days of travel, at a cost of $9,000.

Cookie welcomed the news about a trial air service to and from his community.

“We will see what will come about from what has been proposed,” he said.

“Out-of-towners have also been happy that it might proceed.”

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(9) Comments:

  1. Posted by Miss Neighbor on

    How about opening between Umiujaq/Kuujjuaraapic and Belcher Island. We haven’t seen our relatives for over a year now. They are far from Gov’t regulated restrictions yet so close. Only 1/2hr flights in between and again so far in between. I miss my relatives/friends and all. Please propose us mainlanders. We are Covid free and remain so.

    • Posted by aputi on

      sell it to Quebec it’s closer to them, problem solved

      • Posted by Tundra on

        You’re the problem and who sells people? We are not slaves. That is not an inuk way to treat others like that. Get help, please.

      • Posted by NUNAVIMIUK on

        The people of Sanikluaq have a lot more i common with people of Nunavik then , they do with Nunavuitmiuks.

  2. Posted by Inuk on

    What a waste of money for government to do such. They wasted enough money with isolation hubs. Just open the flights from Sanikiluaq to Nunavik. We have more families there and know people there. We know only handful of people in Iqaluit. Where we would stay? Hotels are expensive as is. OPEN FLIGHTS TO NUNAVIK!

  3. Posted by Qitirmiut on

    Hopefully someday the whole region of Kitikmeot will be connected to Nunavut.

    Just a silly dream I guess?

    • Posted by Reap what we sow ? on

      Nunavut begins & ends at Iqaluit runway !
      Kitikmeot should have stayed with N.T.

  4. Posted by The Old Trapper on

    From a geographic point of view it makes sense to serve Sanikiluaq from Nunavik.
    If the few comments above are any indication the people living in Sanikiluaq have more relatives, and more in common with Nunavik.
    Maybe Sanikiluaq should hold a non binding plebiscite and actually ask the people what they would want? Heck have the senior class at school organize FOR/AGAINST positions and debate this before people vote.
    If there is interest then the GN, federal and Quebec governments could sit down and discuss the possibility of Sanikiluaq becoming part of Nunavik/Quebec?

  5. Posted by Nutarartaatitsiji on

    To birth so far away when we welcome our relatives to birth here at least closer to home and with extended family…

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