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Canadian North reduces flight schedule due to drop in passenger demand

Canadian North is reducing its number of flights due to lower passenger demand in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Canadian North is cutting flights across the NWT and Nunavut due to lower passenger demand as the risk from COVID-19 escalates.
photo courtesy of Canadian North.

Effective Wednesday, flights on the airline's main routes including Ottawa-Iqaluit and Edmonton-Yellowknife-Inuvik will be reduced to once per day, although Canadian North may discontinue passenger service one to three days per week.

For smaller community routes, passenger service will only be offered every second day, instead of daily, unless demand warrants additional flights.

Trans-territorial flights between Yellowknife, Rankin Inlet and Iqaluit will be offered twice weekly instead of four times.

This new schedule will be in effect for seven days and then reviewed, the airline stated. Passengers booked to fly based on the former schedule will be automatically rebooked to the next available flight and will be notified of those details, the airline stated.

“Canadian North and all other airlines are experiencing a sudden and significant decrease in passenger demand. This represents a severe reduction in the revenue that we rely on to operate our business,” stated Chris Avery, Canadian North’s president and CEO in a news release issued Tuesday.

Avery said the airline is turning to the federal and territorial governments to “ensure that they are aware of the severity of this situation and prepared to provide us with the flexibility and support we urgently require.”

In addition to the cancellation of numerous conferences and events — including the Arctic Winter Games in Whitehorse — due to concerns over COVID-19, communities such as Iqaluit, Cambridge Bay, Coral Harbour and Iglulik have requested that non-essential travel be stopped at this time, Avery noted. Non-essential duty travel for government workers is on hold everywhere. Public health authorities are also advising the public to stay home as much as possible and keep a distance of approximately two metres from others to avoid spreading the virus.

Canadian North will shift its priority to freight transportation and it committed to “maintain current levels of capacity on all routes with the flexibility to increase if required. We will also prepare to prioritize freight service to communities without road connections if necessary.”

Canadian North is also allowing passengers scheduled to fly before April 30 to modify or cancel their reservations without a fee, although non-refundable fares will be treated as a travel credit voucher valid for one year.