Nunavut lobbies Greenland for air link

The Nunavut government is stepping up its lobbying efforts for direct flights between Iqaluit and Greenland.

The Nunavut government is stepping up its lobbying efforts for direct flights between Iqaluit and Greenland.

This Air Greenland Dash-8 aircraft could someday be seen regularly in Iqaluit, if the airline establishes a direct route between Greenland and Nunavut's capital city. ((Air Greenland))

Premier Eva Aariak and Peter Taptuna, Nunavut's minister of economic development and transportation, made their pitch directly to Greenland Premier Kuupik Kleist and Air Greenland officials with a presentation Friday afternoon in Iqaluit.

Iqaluit is one of several Canadian destinations Air Greenland is considering. It is also looking at Halifax and St. John's as destinations, and Happy Valley-Goose Bay, N.L., as a refuelling stop.

"There are many business partnerships that could be forged if the route between Iqaluit and Greenland is established," Taptuna stated in a release.

"People around the world are looking to do business in the North, and we should be travelling across the Davis Strait to see how we can mutually benefit from this interest."

Route discontinued in 2001

Officials in Nunavut have been calling for a new route between Iqaluit and Nuuk, the capital of Greenland, since First Air discontinued scheduled flights in 2001.

The Davis Strait separates Iqaluit from Nuuk, and a direct flight over the strait takes less than 90 minutes.

But since the direct route was discontinued, travellers can spend upwards of three days to fly between the two cities, as they must make connecting stops in several countries.

Greenland's mining, oil and gas industries have led Air Greenland to consider destinations in Atlantic Canada, where some of the same companies operate.

But Aariak has been emphasizing the shared cultural ties between Inuit in Nunavut in Greenland, which she said would be cemented with an air link between the two regions.

"Nunavut and Greenland share a similar language, history, culture and education. We could capitalize on and strengthen these similarities by establishing an air link between both regions," Aariak said in the release.

Before 2001, there had been flights between Iqaluit and Greenland for 20 years, including 13 years between Iqaluit and Nuuk and seven years between Iqaluit and Kangerlussuaq, according to officials.