North

Bring back direct flights between Nunavut and Greenland: Inuit official

The president of the Inuit Circumpolar Council in Greenland says he wants less talk and more action on re-establishing a direct air link between Greenland and northern Canada.

The president of the Inuit Circumpolar Council in Greenland says he wants less talk and more action on re-establishing a direct air link between Greenland and northern Canada.

Scheduled service between Nunavut and Greenland ended in 2001, which Aqqaluk Lynge says has cut off ties between Inuit peoples in both regions.

Only the Davis Strait separates Iqaluit from Nuuk, Greenland's capital city. But to reach it, travellers from Iqaluit currently must fly to southern Canada, then head to Copenhagen where they hop on a flight to Nuuk.

"Why should we go via Europe in order to visit a place where we actually only use no more than 1½ hours to fly to [directly]?" Lynge told CBC News in an interview.

Lynge said the absence of direct flights between Nunavut and Greenland has made it more difficult and expensive for people in each country to connect with each other.

His organization has stepped up its lobbying for the scheduled service across the Davis Strait to be re-established.

Lynge argued that mining exploration is booming in both Greenland and Nunavut, raising the need for an air link between the two nations.

"It's up to the leaders of Nunavut and Greenland government to realize what they are talking about, instead of just signing MOUs [memorandums of understanding] every time they meet," he said. "We want some action here and now."

Subsidies needed, or commercial demand: study

A Nunavut government study has indicated that in order to bring back a direct air link, subsidies would be needed in both countries, or there must be some major economic driver such as mining to generate a large movement of people.

John Hawkins, Nunavut's director of transportation, policy and planning, said there is potential for an exchange of goods and workers between the territory and Greenland.

"I don't think it's right in front of us right now, but it certainly has the potential if the boom carries on that way, and the numbers go up, and it actually turns into mining rather than exploration," Hawkins said.

Hawkins said it is important to keep talks going between different levels of government and airlines. While he said there are no immediate plans to bring back air service between Nunavut and Greenland, he added that things can change quickly.