North

Air North blames airport fees, flat ridership for slashed Ottawa flights

'We can’t really operate flights that aren't at least buying the gas and paying the wages,' says company president Joe Sparling.

Airport fees and rising fuel costs mean it's hard to turn a profit on the route, company says

On Monday, the Yukon airline confirmed that its Whitehorse-Yellowknife-Ottawa service would cease after January and resume for the summer. (Air North)

It's official — Air North is scaling back its direct service between Whitehorse, Yellowknife and Ottawa. The scheduled service will now only be offered in the summer.

Earlier this month the Yukon airline said that it was looking at cutting back on the service, but that no decision had been made. On Monday, the company confirmed that the service would cease after January and resume for the summer. 

"All we're doing is we're just eliminating some of the capacity during the slowest periods of the year," said Air North president Joe Sparling.

He blames rising fuel costs, as well as traffic on the route being "kind of flat" for parts of the year. Yellowknife airport fees are also making it hard for the route to turn a profit, Sparling said.

'We can't really operate flights that aren't at least buying the gas and paying the wages,' said Air North president Joe Sparling. (CBC)

"Between the increased landing fees and terminal fees, they've added about $200,000 a year to our cost of operating our [schedules]," he said.

"We can't really operate flights that aren't at least buying the gas and paying the wages."

The Ottawa service, introduced four years ago, will continue as scheduled in January but stop after that.

Summer flights on the Whitehorse-Yellowknife-Ottawa route will then begin on June 15, 2019, and continue until Sept. 1.

Air passes already purchased for the route will be automatically extended until September, and customers who haven't used any segments of their air pass can call for a refund.

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