Iqaluit/Nuuk flight needs government support: Danish honorary consul

As Air Greenland reconsiders its summer route between Nuuk and Iqaluit, Denmark’s honorary consul in Nunavut, Kenn Harper, says the Greenland and Nunavut governments need to do more to support the route.

'I am very disappointed in both governments. There is a way to make this work,' says Kenn Harper

Passengers exit an Air Greenland Dash 8 after arrival at the Iqaluit airport from Nuuk in 2012. The airline announced it will reconsider the route when the summer flights wrap up later this month. (Daniel MacIsaac/CBC)

Denmark's Honorary Consul to Nunavut says the Greenland and Nunavut governments should be held accountable for not doing enough to make an air route between the two regions viable.

"I am very disappointed in both governments," says Kenn Harper. "There is a way to make this work."

Kenn Harper is a businessman, Arctic historian and Denmark's Honorary Consul to Nunavut. (Courtesy Kenn Harper)
Harper is a well-known businessman and writer. He was named Denmark's honorary consul to Nunavut in 2005.

Air Greenland began offering summer flights between Iqaluit and Nuuk, Greenland's capital, three years ago. Earlier this week, the company said it would reconsider the route, which failed to attract large numbers.

"The governments should be held to account for this," Harper says. "They both encouraged Air Greenland to start the route, and other than the odd bureaucrat going back and forth, they haven't given much support."

Iqaluit and Nuuk are just a short flight apart. Without the connection, travellers from Nunavut have to go through southern Canada and Europe to reach Greenland, a land with a shared history and culture. (Air Greenland)

Iqaluit and Nuuk are just a short flight apart. Without the connection, a traveller from Nunavut would have to make stops in southern Canada and Europe to reach Greenland. 

Harper says the solution is for the Nunavut and Greenland governments to guarantee a purchase of a certain number of seats, and "use their imagination" in how they're going to use them.

"And if they don't use them, they should pay for them."

Inuit on both sides of the Davis Strait share many interests and cultural ties.  

The Nunavut and Greenland governments already have a number of agreements in place, as well as many shared goals, such as an education system that supports the Inuit language and cultural preservation.

Harper says the route is much more than just a link between two Inuit communities: it's also a connection to Europe and North America.

"We are part of an international community," he says.

Harper says many people worked for years to get the route going.

"I just think it'll be a damn shame if the route is ended because I can predict with certainty that if it ends, it'll never, ever start again."

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