$9.5M staff house to be built in Nunavik for Air Inuit employees

Société du Plan Nord said the increased demand for air travel coming out of the pandemic, along with the new federal regulations kicking in, means the new residence is a must as Air Inuit must hire more staff to avoid service interruptions and the new limitations on pilot flight times. (Eilís Quinn/Eye on the Arctic)

A $9.5M residence will be built for Air Inuit employees in Nunavik, the Inuit region of Arctic Quebec, something the company hopes will help attract and retain staff, the airline said on Friday. 

“We are investing substantial sums to ensure the continuation of essential services in Nunavik and contribute to Air Inuit staff well-being, who work in sometimes harsh, winterly conditions to deliver quality airline services,” Christian Busch, President and CEO of Air Inuit, said in a statement on Friday.

Air Inuit is owned by Makivik Corporation, the Inuit land claims organization in Nunavik.

The airline serves all destinations in Nunavik, as well as six destinations elsewhere in Quebec: Montreal, Quebec City, La Grande, Schefferville, Sept-îles and Wabush.

To be built in Hudson Bay hub community 

Air Inuit will invest $6.3 million and Société du Plan Nord will invest $3.2 million to build the house in the community of Puvirnituq. (The Société du Plan Nord is a body set up to help plan, along with Indigenous groups and the province’s regions, how to best develop northern Quebec as part of the province’s Plan Nord (North plan).

A file photo of Puvirnituq. The new Air Inuit staff house in the community will have 25 rooms. (Myriam Fimbry/Radio-Canada)

“Puvirnituq is the hub that links many of the surrounding communities on the Hudson coast and Hudson Straight, providing a consistent quality of service to this community is key,” Pita Aatami,  Makivik Corporation’s president, said.

Current Air Inuit accommodation in Puvirnituq has 10 rooms. The new residence will bump that up to 25. 

Hiring in wake of travel uptick, new pilot regulations

Nunavik has a population of approximately 13,000 people, with 14 communities in the region. The communities are fly-in only. 

New flight crew fatigue regulations came into effect in Canada in December 2020 for passenger and cargo airlines, but the changes were deferred for small and regional airlines until December 2022. 

Société du Plan Nord said the increased demand for air travel coming out of the pandemic, along with the new federal regulations kicking in, means the new residence is a must as Air Inuit must hire more staff to avoid service interruptions and the new limitations on pilot flight times. 

Write to Eilís Quinn at eilis.quinn(at)cbc.ca

Related stories from around the North: 

Canada: Northern airlines in Canada raise concerns over new vaccine mandate on flights, impact on medical travel, CBC News

Sweden: Scandinavian airlines cancel thousands of flights and lay off most of their employees, The Independent Barents Observer

United States: Arctic cruise operators brace for coronavirus uncertainty, Alaska Public Media

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