Residents of Yellowknife who are unable to leave the city due to the wildfire by their own means are being asked to register for free evacuation flights out of the city.
Evacuation flights to Calgary are scheduled at the Yellowknife Airport at 1 p.m., 2 p.m., 7 p.m., 8 p.m. and 8:30 p.m., however those flight times may change depending on how the situation evolves. The meeting point for the free flights is Sir John Franklin High School after 10 a.m. Aug. 17.
“Residents wanting to board an evacuation flight must register at Sir John Franklin High School,” reads the Public Safety Web page. “Passengers on evacuation flights will be shuttled from Sir John Franklin High School. Do not go to the airport.
“Due to space and weight limitations, bag size is limited to standard carry-on. Passengers are asked to bring no more than 5 days’ worth of clothing, as well as essentials such as medication, chargers and important family documents including identification, insurance and bank records.”
The GNWT also recommends bringing snacks and water as delays could result from the unpredictability of the wildfire.
Pets are permitted on flights under certain conditions. If using a commercial carrier, pets must be kept in crates. Veterinarians without borders is ordering crates for pets and can be contacted for more information.
Flights being conducted by the Royal Canadian Air Force request pets be crated where possible, but if not available cats may be taken on board if harnessed and dogs may be brought on board on a leash. Both must be held as close as possible at all times. Other pets must be contained in appropriate cages or aquariums.
People on regularly scheduled commercial flights are asked to double check their flight status and follow their airlines pre-boarding procedures before arriving at the airport. Regularly scheduled flights are running until at least Friday at noon.
Flights on Air Canada from Yellowknife to Calgary are currently listed as $1281 leaving Aug. 17 and $303 leaving Aug. 18 in economy class.
From Canadian Press:
Airlines are adjusting prices and adding capacity to help with evacuation efforts in Yellowknife.
WestJet and Air Canada both said they are taking steps to avoid elevated prices, adding extra flights and swapping in bigger planes amid the rapidly unfolding situation up north.
Residents of Yellowknife and two nearby First Nations have been ordered out by noon Friday while crews fight fires that have already forced thousands to evacuate.
WestJet has added an extra recovery flight scheduled for Thursday between Yellowknife and Calgary, and added larger aircraft to operate previously scheduled flights between the cities, spokeswoman Julia Kaiser said in an email.
WestJet has adjusted fare classes to avoid price escalation and has announced flexible guidelines for changes and cancellations for all guests travelling to Yellowknife between Aug. 17 and 22, Kaiser said.
The airline has also increased its limits on pets in cabins so more guests can bring pets onboard and proactively cancelled six flights on Friday and Saturday, she said.
Meanwhile, Air Canada has placed a cap on fares for direct flights from Yellowknife, said spokesman Peter Fitzpatrick in an email.
He acknowledged some social media posts saying fares were hiked amid the emergency but said they are not correct. Some of the screenshots of particularly high fares show “complex itineraries involving multiple flights, and sometimes multiple carriers, rather than direct flights out,” he said.
Air Canada added two extra flights, bringing Thursday’s total to four, said Fitzpatrick. One flight, coming from Vancouver, will use a bigger aircraft, making use of a 169-seat Boeing 737 instead of a 76-seat regional jet.
Another 737 flight is being added for Friday, and the airline is evaluating opportunities for extra flights, said Fitzpatrick. No flights are currently planned to Yellowknife on Saturday, he said.
“At this point, flights for the next few days are completely full, but we are monitoring the situation and will adjust our schedule as we can. We have also put in a goodwill policy for customers to change their flights booked for travel up to August 30, or to obtain a refund,” he said.