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Trial run for shorter flights

Jeanne Gagnon
Northern News Services
Published Monday, December 19, 2011

If only for eight days next spring, a second airline will offer service in the High Arctic so that residents in Pond Inlet, Arctic Bay and Iglulik will be able to visit each other without first flying down to Iqaluit.

Canadian North confirmed it will operate flights between those communities on a trial basis between April 6 and 14, 2012. Easter is April 8.

"We felt we should try a schedule to work with what they felt they knew about the communities," said Lorraine Bonner, vice-president of schedule service at Canadian North. "Currently, if someone wants to go from Iglulik to Arctic Bay, they have to travel Iglulik to Iqaluit and then Iqaluit to Arctic Bay, which, to start with, is a very long trip but also very expensive."

She added cost, revenue and passenger numbers will determine the trial's success.

"Canadian North is committed to trying this service. Obviously, we're hopeful it would be successful," said Bonner.

The trial run comes after Quttiktuq MLA Ron Elliott, Amittuq MLA Louis Tapardjuk and Tununiq MLA Joe Enook met with Canadian North in Iqaluit on Oct. 27, asking for a service between Arctic Bay, Iglulik and Pond Inlet.

The trio discussed the high cost of travel in the High Arctic and pushed the idea of inter-community travel, according to Elliott. The airline agreed to look into the proposal before deciding on a trial schedule.

"I'm hopeful it's going to be very successful and it will continue. They are taking a bit of a risk going into a market where there is only one airline," said Elliott.

"(This will allow) my constituents to be able to travel inter-community to visit with relatives and also to travel at cheaper rates so it is affordable for them to actually visit different communities."

He added via e-mail the trial schedule is designed so Resolute and Grise Fiord residents can connect via First Air from Resolute to get on the Canadian North flight.

Booking will start Dec. 23.

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