Buffalo Airways shutdown troubles few customers in N.W.T., Nunavut

Buffalo Airways has remained quiet since having its air operator certificate suspended on Tuesday, but its sudden shutdown doesn't appear to be troubling its customers.

Airline has until Dec. 30 to appeal suspension, has stayed quiet on situation

A Buffalo Airways C-46 airplane is shown after it caught fire at the Yellowknife in December 2013. Buffalo Airways has until Dec. 30 of this year to appeal the suspension of its air operator certificate by Transport Canada due to Buffalo's poor safety record. (CBC)
Buffalo Airways has remained quiet since having its air operator certificate suspended on Tuesday, but its sudden shutdown doesn't appear to be troubling its customers.

The airline announced earlier this week that it would use chartered aircraft to support its customers travel and freight needs while its own fleet remains grounded due to the suspension. Transport Canada said earlier that they suspended Buffalo's operating licence as a means to persuade the company to improve its safety record.

Grant Newman, who owns Kikiak Contracting in Kugluktuk, Nunavut, says that it's business as usual in his community, which gets freight from Buffalo cargo runs.

"Based on the reports we've gotten we aren't expecting our scheduled flight until the 16th," said Newman, "and as far as I've been notified, that flight should arrive as per the dates they've specified."

In a Facebook post Thursday, Buffalo Airways said that it has been able to support scheduled passenger flights between Hay River and Yellowknife, as well as completed supply runs to communities in the territory's Sahtu region through the use of chartered aircraft.

"Buffalo Airways will continue to meet our customers' needs, by any means necessary," the post read.

"We are overwhelmed by the amount of support we have received both nationally and internationally. We have the best customers and fans in the world!"

No word on appeal

As Buffalo Airways continues to serve its customers using charters, more details are emerging about the events that led to the airline's suspension.

Andrea Rudniski, a spokesperson for Transport Canada, said that the agency's investigation into the airline dates back more than two years to a crash at the Yellowknife airport in 2013.

"Following Buffalo Airways' accident at the Yellowknife Airport on Aug. 19, 2013, Transport Canada conducted several oversight activities to verify whether the company was operating safely," Rudniski told CBC in an email.

"The results of those oversight activities led Transport Canada to suspend Buffalo Airways' Air Operator Certificate on Nov. 30, 2015.

"Transport Canada takes its aviation safety oversight role very seriously and expects every air operator to fully comply with aviation safety regulations. When air operators fail to comply with the regulations, Transport Canada takes appropriate action in the interest of public safety."

Buffalo Airways has until Dec. 30 to request a review of its suspension, but the company is staying mum on whether or not it plans to appeal.

Kristine Cooke, Buffalo Airways' communications director, told CBC that the company's management is choosing not to comment on the situation.


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