Canadian North, newly combined with former competitor First Air, has released its first winter schedule as a virtual monopoly in Canada’s Arctic, promising to maintain essential services and increase connections to its southern gateways, while turning former non-stop routes into more consistent services but with stops along the way.
“This schedule has been designed to improve the sustainability of the merged airline by reducing excess capacity and eliminating the costly duplication of equipment and infrastructure,” the airline said in releasing its schedule.
“Simplifying northern travel and shipping for the benefit of everyone they serve is also an important consideration, so they have added new flight choices while making every effort to minimize the number of stops and overnight stays required between its destinations where possible.”
When he approved the Canadian North-First Air merger, Transport Minister Marc Garneau imposed a number of conditions, among them, maintaining days of service and capping fare increases for passengers and cargo.
“The upcoming launch of our unified flight schedule will allow us to better allocate our resources so that we can offer the best possible service while at the same time improving the efficiency of our operations and enabling future investment,” said Chris Avery, President and CEO of Canadian North. “We know that we play a crucial role in the well-being of the communities we serve and we will continue to work hard to earn the support and respect of our customers, with safe, caring and helpful service.”
The airline has made a number of improvements to its schedule, among them splitting departures between Ottawa and Iqaluit into morning and afternoon services, allowing for same-day connections between Ottawa and all communities in the Qikiqtani region.
“The two different flight time options really helped to facilitate more business and political exchanges,” said Iqaluit mayor Madeleine Redfern in a tweet.
The two different flight time options really helped to facilitate more business and political exchanges between Iqaluit and Ottawa.— MayorOfFish (@MayorMadeleine) August 30, 2019
I loved having that option of flying down on a later flight and getting back the next day on the later flight. /1 https://t.co/hNa3i63TeS
Canadian North also said the new combined schedule would also provide daily connections in the Western Arctic – Cambridge Bay, Gjoa Haven, Taloyoak and Kugaaruk – to Edmonton.
Increases in non-stop service:
- Kugaaruk to Yellowknife – four additional weekly flights
- Resolute to Iqaluit new weekly non-stop service
But while connectivity is getting better in many cases, in a handful of others, communities are losing previous non-stop service and passengers will have to make stops along the way to get where they’re going.
Non-stop service from Inuvik to Yellowknife will disappear, forcing passengers to stop in Norman Wells along the way. Pond Inlet also takes a hit, losing service to Arctic Bay and Resolute.
Dropped non-stop services:
- Arctic Bay and Resolute to Pond Inlet
- Cambridge Bay to Yellowknife (four weekly Yellowknife to Cambridge Bay non-stop flights maintained)
- Inuvik to Yellowknife
Canadian North has a virtual monopoly in the North, only facing competition between Edmonton and Yellowknife. Despite this, the company says it is committed to “always providing the best possible passenger and cargo service at the lowest possible pricing.”
The company plans to launch a unified reservation system later this year, along with new economy fare categories and a combined Aurora Rewards programme on all flights.