Canadian North calls First Air codeshare drop a 'sudden, unilateral' decision

Canadian North president Steve Hankirk says he is "disappointed by First Air’s sudden, unilateral decision" to end the codeshare agreement between the two airlines.

First Air to end codeshare agreement with Canadian North next May

As of May 2017, First Air will terminate its codeshare relationship with Canadian North, the airline stated Thursday in a news release. (Vincent Robinet/CBC)

First Air has given notice to Canadian North that it will terminate their codeshare agreement, effective May 16, 2017.

"The codeshare achieved the efficiencies and schedule improvements that First Air had hoped for," stated Brock Friesen, First Air president and CEO, in a media release.

"However our customers have told us that they strongly prefer to fly First Air on its own."

The notice period is in line with the codeshare agreement between the two Northern airlines, stated First Air, adding that the period will allow for proper transition for bookings.

First Air customers holding reservations beyond May 16 will automatically be re-confirmed on a new flight if their flight has changed, stated First Air. Customers may also check their bookings through the First Air website or by calling the airline's customer contact centre.

'Sudden, unilateral decision'

Canadian North president Steve Hankirk said in a statement that he was "disappointed by First Air's sudden, unilateral decision" to end the codeshare agreement, "given the numerous efficiencies and schedule improvements it had enabled."

He said the airline remains committed to offering service to all of the communities it serves in the North.

"We will use the coming days to formulate a revised plan that allows us to continue to serve our customers," he said.

"We will continue to do all that we can to remain your airline of choice by offering competitive pricing and exceptional customer service, with safe operations always our number one priority."

In wake of Competition Bureau investigation

The codeshare agreement came into effect in 2015, after Canadian North and First Air called off merger talks. First Air has said the codeshare agreements, which allow for sharing of passengers and cargo on select routes, are needed to keep the company's operations financially viable.

Earlier this month a federal court granted a court order for the two Northern airlines to provide information to the Competition Bureau for its ongoing investigation into their alleged anti-competitive conduct.

The bureau filed an application Oct. 20 with the Federal Court to get information from the two airlines it said it needed to investigate allegations relating to predatory pricing. 

Canadian North president Steve Hankirk said in a statement that he was 'disappointed by First Air’s sudden, unilateral decision' to end the codeshare agreement (Patrick Nagle/CBC)

In the announcement about ending the codeshare agreement First Air made no reference to the Competition Bureau's investigation. Instead, it spoke about its growing fleet.

First Air says that all six of its recently purchased ATR42-500 aircraft will be in service in early 2017, bringing its fleet to a total of 13, and giving it an "ample fleet to provide a robust schedule in both the Eastern and Western Arctic," Friesen said in the release.

The news of the end of codeshare follows earlier announcements this month that Canadian North is cancelling numerous flights on its Ottawa-Iqaluit codeshare route.

Canadian North first informed customers that, due to planned maintenance, the Ottawa to Iqaluit codeshare route will be served by a single daily flight operated by First Air from Jan. 5 to Feb. 28, 2017. Later, it informed customers that it has also cancelled Ottawa to Iqaluit flights for an additional 11 days in December, citing non-peak travel days.


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