Hunter Tootoo, Nunavut’s Member of Parliament, credited Transport Canada Minister Marc Garneau for imposing airfare and flight route conditions that address concerns expressed by Northerners in regards to the First Air merger with Canadian North.
The creation of an advisory board that will be answerable to Transport Canada should give the rules some teeth, he said.
“I think that’s a way of setting up something so there’s long-term protection,” said Tootoo.
A former senior director of business development and community relations for Canadian North before becoming MP, Tootoo said he understands the business case for First Air and Canadian North’s merger.
“People have always said for years there’s room for one-and-a-half airlines but not two in the North,” he said. “I think we could end up with this merger seeing better services.”
Tootoo predicted that the airlines will retain the same number of flights but will adjust departure times to improve passenger and cargo movement.
He added that he remains hopeful Nunavut Inuit will become future partners in the new combined airline.
“If you have truly pan-Arctic ownership in an airline for all Inuit then it’s ‘We’re here to serve you.’ I think that’s the approach that they want to go,” he said.