North

Airline cancels Watson Lake service, says people prefer to drive

'There just hasn't been the traffic necessary to have a viable scheduled service,' said Alkan Air president Wendy Tayler.

Alkan Air's twice-weekly flights, which began in 2016, will stop in September

An Alkan Air Dornier 228 in Whitehorse, waiting to take off for Watson Lake. (Philippe Morin/CBC)

It's been less than two years, but Yukon's Alkan Air says its new scheduled service between Watson Lake and Whitehorse is a bit of a bust.

The airline will stop its twice-weekly flights as of September 30.

'There just hasn't been the traffic necessary to have a viable scheduled service,' said Alkan Air president Wendy Tayler. (Cheryl Kawaja/CBC)

"There just hasn't been the traffic necessary to have a viable scheduled service," said Alkan president Wendy Tayler.

When the airline launched the new service in 2016, the hope was that it would prove popular with community members, businesses, and tourists who don't want to do the five-hour drive between Whitehorse and Watson Lake.

It was the first scheduled air service to Watson Lake since the 1990s. 

But Tayler said it turns out that people don't seem to mind the drive. 

A crowd of people in Watson Lake greeted Alkan Air — and the first scheduled flight to the community in 20 years — in September 2016. (Philippe Morin/CBC)

"We've done some research, and we've found that the Watson Lake community has a great relationship with Whitehorse using ground transportation — and they have become very accustomed to that, and it seems to really meet most of their needs," she said.

The announcement comes just weeks after Greyhound stopped its service to Watson Lake and Whitehorse.

Alkan Air's scheduled service will continue on Mondays and Fridays until the end of September. A one-way ticket for the 75-minute flight goes for $325.

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