“Air Canada’s leadership and extensive network will stimulate the recovery of the travel and tourism industry.”
In what must be a unknowingly brilliant marketing move by those on the top floor at Air Canada, folks wanting to fly from Yellowknife to Edmonton or Calgary will soon get to see the Rocky Mountains from the window of a Mitsubishi CR9 jetliner — a jet, no more turboprops — and spend a short, sweet time touring through Vancouver International Airport. All included in your ticket price!
While at the bustling air terminal on Sea Island, just 12 kilometres from downtown Vancouver, you can take advantage of fresh and healthy food available 24 hours a day in the new UpMeals SmartVending machines!
Part of YVR’s “journey to transform its food and beverage program,” the machines also feature a meal exclusive to the airport: YVR Signature Bowl, which includes B.C. smoked salmon, tomatoes, and, of course, avocado, promising “a true West Coast experience in every bite!”
So, after that experience, you get back on another Air Canada jet — hopefully with your luggage stowed in the hold — to head to Edmonton or Calgary.
When will WestJet think of something as marvellous as that? Perhaps the innovative company could make a stop in Regina — the Queen City — on the way to Edmonton? Or through Winnipeg on the way to Calgary?
With little to no fanfare, Air Canada just cancelled most non-stop flights to Edmonton and Calgary, apparently with all soon to disappear.
But not permanently, states the airline.
In a report, Air Canada stated non-stop flights will be “temporarily suspended” from Yellowknife to Edmonton as of Oct. 1 and to Calgary starting one month later.
The changes are “seasonal adjustments” to the airline’s fall and winter schedule, to provide more “resiliency into the overall winter and summer 2023 schedule.” Huh?
It’s no secret airlines are suffering labour shortages and other headaches, as are many sectors in the post-pandemic world. It just always sucks when reality hits home.
Actually, after sending my mouse on a journey through the maze of airline booking schedules, it appears WestJet, as well, has fewer direct flights to Edmonton, almost all making a stop first in Calgary before heading back North.
The only airline that maintains scheduled direct flights to Edmonton is Canadian North, however its choices are fewer and prices a bit higher (I notice a decent sale has just started). But I’m sure Canadian North will benefit from having the sole full-time direct route.
So in the big picture, how does this situation impact the NWT business sector? Well, in a couple of ways, for sure.
Edmonton is the capital of Alberta, which is the territory’s largest trading partner. One of those commodities are people, in the form of patients sent there for procedures not available at Stanton Territorial Hospital. While emergency cases are medevaced, what about the walking wounded looking for something the nursing shorted Stanton just can’t do at the moment?
So, having few direct flights to Edmonton might be of concern to young families or seniors, who might be on the fence deciding whether to call Yellowknife or another NWT community home.
Then there is the obvious problem for entrepreneurs and businesspeople needing to get to Edmonton for a meeting and hopefully get home the same day. They can pretty much forget about that now.
How about tourism? Of course, anything that keeps tourists in an airplane or airport and not staring at our night skies or eating at Bullocks Bistro is hurting revenue here. I don’t have a clue how many tourists would be diverted through Vancouver when trying to get from Edmonton to Yellowknife, but even a few negative stories/reviews online could dampen enthusiasm for a sector doing its best to return to pre-pandemic levels of vacationers.
At least the federal government last week finally dropped the Covid-19 vaccination and isolation requirements and relieved passengers of mandatory masking — public health directives that were long vacated by most other countries.