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No change in safety-first approach with airports division, virus or no virus

It’s business as usual always putting safety first in maintaining Kivalliq airports, Covid-19 pandemic or no Covid-19 pandemic, said the director of the Nunavut Airports Division of the Department of Economic Development and Transportation.

Darrin Nichol said the department’s level of service has not changed one iota during the virus challenge.

Lali Skyler watches as Phoenix Pudlat tends to a hockey bag at the airport terminal building in Rankin Inlet earlier this winter.
photo courtesy Noel Kaludjak

He said the department’s regional crews continue to do their jobs making sure the runways are safe, the airports are compliant, they’re suitable for both regular scheduled flights and cargo flights, and passengers are safe travelling in and out.

“Really, nothing has changed due to Covid-19 in terms of what we’re doing at the airport,” said Nichol. “For sure flights have been reduced, given the environment, but our focus hasn’t changed. It remains status quo and we haven’t really changed anything with what we’re doing.”

Nichol said there’s been no change in the number of hours dedicated to maintaining the Rankin airport despite the reduction in flights. He said that hasn’t changed in any of Nunavut’s 24 airports that his department oversees.

“We post our hours in the Canada Flight Supplement, we book within those hours and those are the hours we continue to maintain.

“Nothing has become any easier, or more difficult, with maintaining the Rankin airport because of the current climate.

“We have a good crew in Rankin Inlet. We maintain the airport in a partnership with the hamlet and they’ve done an amazing throughout anything and everything.

“But, again, the focus of maintaining runways and maintaining airports hasn’t changed – it hasn’t become easier, nor has it really become any harder – remaining pretty much status quo as it was before and as it is now.”

Nichol said while there has been a noticeable reduction in the number of flights coming into Rankin each week due to the Covid-19 situation, there’s still regularly scheduled passenger flights, charter flights and cargo flights coming into the community.

He said his department is doing the exact same thing across the board in every community it oversees that it was doing earlier.

“There’s no doubt there’s been a reduction in traffic, and no doubt that most of the general public notices this or they’re aware of the situation.

“It might not jive with what they (the public) think, but they can rest assured that hasn’t changed our business-as-usual focus in making sure these airports are being maintained in a top-notch, A1 manner, and our focus is always safety first.

“We have great people working at our airports across the Kivalliq, Baffin and Kitikmeot regions, who are very dedicated folks, great community partners and great transportation staff members.

“We take great pride in doing our job, as do our community partners, and we’re going to continue that going forward, regardless of the environment we find ourselves in.”

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