Flight war jams phone lines at Yukon’s Air North

Competition is bringing an air fare battle to Yukon, where the local Air North is offering tickets at half the price in what one observer calls ‘a race to the bottom.’

Airline holding 50 per cent off seat sale to fill planes in competitive market

A seat sale offering tickets at 50 per cent off has jammed the phone lines at the Whitehorse headquarters of Air North and has an airline analyst wondering which of the three airlines, servicing the Yukon capital this summer, will call it quits.

The sale started Wednesday and already thousands of tickets are booked.

"I just drove straight over because I knew this was the best way to do it," says Bobbie Brundige, who showed up in person to get in on the deal. “$515 for two adults to travel to Vancouver for six days and come home? Unheard of.”

Yukoners have also been sharing the seat sale announcement on Facebook inviting friends and family to visit the north.

Competition between airlines flying out of Whitehorse is tougher than ever as Air Canada and WestJet launch their summer service to and from the Yukon capital.

“All three carriers are flying around with a lot of empty seats,” says Air North’s Deb Ryan. "We want our seats filled." 

That forced the airline to take drastic measures. 

“We’ve never seen prices this low in the Yukon,” Ryan says. “We have three jet services into one of the smallest markets in Canada. This is an anomaly anywhere in the world.”

Ryan says she hopes the sale will attract repeat customers.

David Duval from the University of Manitoba's Transport Institute has seen this kind of red ticket sale before.

“Obviously what you can get is a bit of a race to the bottom and that unfortunately can result in some airlines or some carriers exiting the market.”

So far there's no sign of that, but there's also no telling just how low prices will go.

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