Following a recent announcement of federal funding for Air Canada, Canada’s largest airline will be resuming services to suspended regional airports, including Yellowknife.
The change will take effect no later than June 1, 2021, the Canadian government announced in a statement earlier this month.
On April 12, the federal government committed to $4 billion in loans, a $500-million investment in Air Canada stock, and an additional $1.4-billion for Air Canada to support customer refunds.
In January, the airline suspended service to and from Yellowknife, stating that pandemic lockdowns and travel restrictions had reduced their network capacity by 80 per cent.
“Operating in this environment is not sustainable,” an Air Canada spokesperson said at the time.
Renée Comeau, executive director of the NWT Chamber of Commerce, called the announcement “a very important step in rebuilding our tourism sector.”
She said the additional passenger traffic in the airport will be beneficial for privately owned businesses in the building and that “the NWT Chamber is very happy to hear that Air Canada has revived its route to Yellowknife.”
Air Tindi president Chris Reynolds said “it was great to see Federal support for Air Canada,” and expects similar such announcements to follow for West Jet and other large carriers that are “critical to the economy.”
Reynolds added, however, that border closures are still the biggest restriction to recovery.
Isolation requirements and border closures at both the Canada/USA border, as well as the NWT border closures pose obstacles for tourism, exploration, mining and other struggling segments of the economy that will be difficult to overcome, he said.
“I also hope part of the consideration is to get the furloughed workers back to work again. It’s been a long year for so many of them.”
On March 11, 2021, Canadian North began servicing morning flights between Yellowknife and Edmonton “in response to recent changes seen in airline services,” spokesperson Kevin Kablutsiak told Yellowknifer. Despite Air Canada’s announcement to return service to Yellowknife, Kablutsiak said the schedule would remain as-is for the foreseeable future.
“The last year has been very challenging for airline companies operating during the global pandemic and constant changes in services were fully expected,” he said. “Just as we have all along, we remain focused on our commitment to providing safe and reliable airline services.”