Transport Canada apparently listened to what Nunavummiut had to say in approving the merger, Madeleine Redfern, president of the Nunavut Association of Municipalities, said of the conditions the regulatory body put in place.
However, she advised that the federal government has a weak track record of enforcement in such cases because it would involve legal proceedings. She would have preferred the government introduce legislative and administrative means of policing the airlines.
“Going to court is time consuming and very costly,” said Redfern, who has a law degree.
Nevertheless, she’s hopeful that First Air and Canadian North will realize efficiencies, which is their stated goal.
“A reduction in operating costs might result in lower fares for passenger travel and for cargo,” she said. “That would be good news.”
Redfern also wondered whether some past routes might be re-established, as requested by communities.
“People literally want to be able to see family and friends,” she said.
Although Iqaluit city council passed a resolution a year ago encouraging greater competition among airlines by establishing connections to the south, no carrier has seized the opportunity.
“Time will tell. Sarvaq was not successful in attempting to bring choice and cheaper travel options between Iqaluit and the south,” she said of a failed 2016 attempt to launch a new airline, which got squeezed out when First Air and Canadian North responded by drastically lowering their fares on the same route.
She also pointed out that Air Canada withdrew from Iqaluit after a year of service in 2011.