Competition Bureau hears complaints on northern airlines codeshare

Representatives from the Canadian Competition Bureau are in Nunavut hearing complaints from the territorial government and Iqaluit city council about the codeshare arrangement between airlines First Air, Canadian North and Calm Air.

'We are getting a lot of complaints from every community,' says Nunavut Premier Peter Taptuna

Representatives from the Canadian Competition Bureau are in Nunavut hearing complaints from governments about the codeshare arrangement between airlines First Air, Canadian North and Calm Air.

The airlines announced in May they would begin "codesharing" some routes, selling seats and cargo space on the other airline's flights.

Nunavut Premier Peter Taptuna says the territorial government has serious concerns, saying the airlines are not living up to the promises they made to the legislature to keep prices low and services intact.

Nunavut Premier Peter Taptuna says the territorial government has serious concerns about the effects of the codeshare agreement between the territory's two major airlines on passenger and cargo service to the communities. (Grant Linton/CBC)

"Flying in Nunavut is not a luxury," he says.

"It's one of the things that we depend on to get our food. Our fresh vegetables and produce, it has to be flown in, and it's getting to a point where we are getting a lot of complaints from every community." 

Taptuna says the GN, as the airlines' biggest customer, has been deeply affected. He says medical shipments are not being sent on time and GN workers are being left stranded in other communities for days.

Taptuna says he sent a letter to the airlines on Tuesday demanding answers.

Iqaluit city council also expressed concerns to the Competition Bureau representatives. Councillors say business is one thing — but they're concerned residents are being gouged. 

"All of us are northerners; we all understand how the system works, you know, weather and short delays," says councillor Kenny Bell. 

"But this codeshare is bringing on a whole new set of problems."

A spokesperson for the Canadian Competition Bureau says it consults with "a wide range of industry participants, such as suppliers, competitors, industry associations, customers and industry experts" when reviewing transactions. She added the bureau is required by law to conduct its reviews confidentially.


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