Arctic Canada: Aklak Air reduces flights to each community, due to ‘significant decrease’ in travel

A file photo of an Aklak Air aircraft. The small regional airline announced cuts to its scheduled flights due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Karen McColl)
Aklak Air will reduce the number of scheduled flights to each community it services, because of a “significant decrease in passenger travel,” according to a news release.

Aklak Air serves communities in the Inuvialuit Settlement Region.

Starting March 30, the company says it will “attempt to” offer flights once a week to three communities outside of Inuvik, and will adjust its service with the demand.

Ken Dalton, general manager of Aklak, said in the news release that the company operates on a thin margin. Because of less government and business travel, Dalton said the company doesn’t have money to continue its operations.

“The decision was not easy to make,” said Dalton in the news release.

The company expects to provide cargo services, but it says non-priority cargo may take a bit longer to reach a community.

“We will continue to ensure the movement of essential goods into the communities is not affected,” the news release states.

Here are the scheduled service flights starting next week:

  • Departing Inuvik on Mondays at 2:30 p.m. (Inuvik — Sachs Harbour — Ulukhaktok — Inuvik)
  • Departing Inuvik on Wednesdays at 2:30 p.m. (Inuvik — Paulatuk — Inuvik)

Aklak says these schedules could be postponed due to weather, a delay in cargo delivery to Aklak, or delays from other airlines for connecting passengers.

‘Reach out’ to N.W.T. government, airline urges

Dalton said the company has contacted the territorial government to request it works with the airline to ensure communities continue to get its service.

“We encourage you to reach out to your [N.W.T. government] representatives to explain how this service is vital to you and encourage them to help continue this service and reduce the costs to beneficiaries,” said Dalton, in the news release.

The Aklak reservation office hours are also reduced from Monday to Friday to 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., and people are asked to contact the airline during those hours for flight status and reservations.

“We look forward to serving you at full capacity once we’ve defeated this COVID-19 virus,” states the news release.

Related stories from around the North:

Arctic: Roundup of COVID-19 responses around the Arctic, Eye on the Arctic

Canada: COVID-19 could hit Nunavut harder than elsewhere, says Canadian territory’s top doctor, CBC News

Finland: Finns continue with ski holiday plans despite travel advisory, Yle News

Greenland: COVID-19: Arctic science expedition postpones flight campaign after trainee tests positive for virus, Eye on the Arctic

Norway: Arctic oil plans in Norway and Russia disrupted amid COVID-19 crisis, The Independent Barents Observer

Russia: Coronavirus: Russia hints it might close its border with Norway, Finland, The Independent Barents Observer

Sweden: Why are Sweden’s politicians taking a different tack for coronavirus?, Radio Sweden

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