Aklak Air discontinued its flight service between Inuvik and Tuktoyaktuk on Friday, Feb. 9, according to Ken Dalton, the airline’s general manager.
Aklak Air is the only airline that offers flight service between Inuvik and Tuktoyaktuk.
“Since the opening of the [Inuvik-Tuktoyaktuk Highway] the scheduled service was actually reduced from two to three flights daily down to one flight daily,” Dalton said. “However, the significant decline in demand doesn’t even warrant one flight a week.”
However, if the highway were to be closed for a significant period of time, Aklak Air would resume operating scheduled flights while the road is closed, Dalton said.
“For planned closures, we could be ready to go (for) as few as one day of closure,” Dalton said. “However, for sudden unplanned closures, flights may take a day or more to be scheduled around other commitments already booked for the aircraft.”
Notice of the cancellation was posted in several community Facebook groups. Some community members expressed their frustration with the announcement in the comments section.
One commenter and part-time resident of Tuktoyaktuk, Doris Sabatier, wrote, “Reduced service is one thing (and understandable), but no service is quite another.”
Other commenters noted they were concerned that residents may not be able to leave Tuktoyaktuk quickly in an emergency situation.
Medevac service will continue to be available in the community.
Sabatier said the discontinuation of service was a surprise.
“I figured that it would be reduced, as I know a lot of people were looking forward to driving the highway,” she said. “But I didn’t think they would totally cancel it. What about tourists?”
She said with flight service, tourists have more options, as renting cars in Inuvik and Tuktoyaktuk is not always an option.
“That just leaves taking a taxi, or if you happen to know someone with a car,” she said. “If you want to go to Tuk and you’re a tourist and you don’t know anybody there, it will be difficult.”
Other commenters wrote that the discontinuation of service is understandable as the Inuvik-Tuktoyaktuk highway is sufficient for travelling between the communities.