Runway sinkhole cancels Canadian North flight to Inuvik

A Canadian North flight headed to Inuvik was cancelled Wednesday afternoon due to a sinkhole at Inuvik's airport. The N.W.T. government says it's repairing the problem.
A Canadian North flight to Inuvik was cancelled Wednesday due to a sinkhole at the airport in Inuvik. (David Thurton/CBC)

Passengers scheduled to fly on a Canadian North flight from Yellowknife to Inuvik Wednesday afternoon say they were told their flight was cancelled because of a sinkhole on the Mike Zubko Airport runway in Inuvik.

The N.W.T.'s director of airports, Delia Chesworth, says the Department of Transportation has been aware of the problem.

"This is not a new dip," said Chesworth. "It's a recurring problem. It came to our attention initially in 2013.

"It was repaired with a temporary repair while we did some further investigation. It has now recurred and we are just analyzing the situation. But we do have a plan in place to fix it."

The Inuvik airport remains open. Canadian North was the only airline that decided to cancel a flight Wednesday after receiving an update from the Department of Transportation about a sinkhole that "moved along the runway surface," said Chesworth. 

"All planes have different flight characteristics, and all airlines make different business decisions."

Asked if the runway is safe to operate on, Chesworth said, "The department has put measures in place to look after the safe operations. The decision to land is still a business decision of an air carrier."

Earlier this year, Transport Canada commissioned a study to look at the impacts of climate change on three Northern airports, including Inuvik's, which dates back to 1956.

Transport Canada said the repairs done to Inuvik's 6,001-foot runway in 2013 were necessary due to "large thaw settlement." 


  • A previous version of this story incorrectly reported the length of Inuvik's runway.
    Apr 22, 2015 5:45 PM CT