North

Nav Canada looking to cut costs at its Whitehorse airport operations

The company says it's assessing whether both the control tower and the flight services station are needed at the airport.

The company says it's assessing whether both the control tower and flight services station are needed

Financially struggling Nav Canada is reviewing its control tower and flight service station operations in Whitehorse. (Murray Lundberg)

Nav Canada says it's looking to find ways to streamline its operations at the Whitehorse airport.

The company operates Canada's civil air navigation service including the control tower and flight services station at the airport.

It announced in September it had already eliminated hundreds of jobs due to the slow down in air traffic because of COVID-19.

The privately owned company said at the time it was looking at further cost savings through a number of reviews at airports across Canada.

In an email to CBC News, the Whitehorse airport will be assessed to see whether the level of service offered should be air traffic control or airport advisory services

Airport advisory services include the flight information centre which has specialists trained to interpret weather information and provide advisories to pilots.

The Canadian Press, however, reported in September that Nav Canada plans to keep the Whitehorse flight information centre open.

Nav Canada did not respond to a request for clarification on whether that meant the control tower will be the focus of any cuts.

Added layer of safety

Joe Sparling, the president of Whitehorse-based Air North, said he hopes any reduction in services at the airport doesn't become troublesome.

Having a control tower is an added layer of safety, he said.

"In the absence of a tower, when the tower is closed, traffic isn't being directed, it's just being advised," said Sparling.

"So, you know, basically as pilots, we're maintaining our own separation from other aircraft," he said.

Sparling said Nav Canada is struggling financially just like other businesses in the aviation industry.

The company said the review will proceed according to federal government guidelines and in consultation with local stakeholders with safety as the main goal.

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