Jet fuel shortage disrupts flights in isolated region of Northern Canada

Aerial view of downtown Norman Wells, in Canada’s Northwest Territories. (Eilis Quinn/Eye on the Arctic)
North-Wright Airways Ltd. has had to cancel flights and reschedule others due to a fuel shortage.

The airline’s jet fuel supplier is Imperial Oil — the only such supplier in Norman Wells, in Canada’s Northwest Territories.

“We are experiencing challenges with the supply of jet fuel in Norman Wells,” said Imperial Oil spokesperson Christina Randall.

She said there was a recent shipment of fuel to the community that, after testing, didn’t meet the standards for commercial use.

“An essential service”

As the only airline that serves the smaller and fly-in communities in the Sahtu region, North-Wright and travellers to the region are being hit hard by the lack of fuel.

“We’re an essential service,” said Kyle Newhook, operations manager for North-Wright. “We’ve had people miss their connections in other locations. The majority of what we’re experiencing is operational delays and cancellations, which is affecting all of our customers.”

“We’re making every phone call and email and everything we can do to restore things to our proper order,” he said.

Randall said Imperial Oil is working on a solution to the shortage, but expects it won’t be resolved for another few weeks.

Other airlines not hard hit

Other airlines with routes through Norman Wells, such as Canadian North and First Air, haven’t been as impacted as North-Wright Airways since they can skip refuelling in Norman Wells.

“We’ve had no disruption of service. We don’t expect any. We are tankering our fuel out of Inuvik and out of Yellowknife,” said Gail Quinn, a spokesperson for Canadian North.

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Canadian government gives giant boost to Northern highway project, CBC News

Finland: Major expansion planned for Northern Finland’s airports, YLE News

Norway: Tourist boom raises hope for Scandinavia’s northernmost cross-border flights, The Independent Barents Observer

Russia: Russian regional airline cancels only direct Murmansk-Oslo link, The Independent Barents Observer

Sweden: Swedish regional airline Nextjet files for bankruptcy, cancels all flights, Radio Sweden

United States: Arctic flights save time, but fuel climate change, Cryopolitics Blog

Kaila Jefferd-Moore, CBC News

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