First Air and Canadian North published a new “unified schedule” on Friday, the first since a merger between the two northern airlines began.
Merger papers were signed in July, creating one airline under the Canadian North name with First Air’s livery and logo.
However, the actual process of merging – combining employees, operations, and finances – is expected to take up to two years.
Creating a joint schedule is one of the first steps. Canadian North and First Air, which continue to fly as separate entities for the time being, called the schedule “an important milestone.”
The new schedule comes into effect on November 1 and consolidates some routes, such as Yellowknife-Edmonton, by running one daily service where previously there were two.
The airlines said the schedule offers new, daily southbound connections from Gjoa Haven, Taloyoak, and Kugaaruk to Edmonton via Yellowknife.
There is also daily 737 service between Yellowknife and Cambridge Bay, “augmented by daily turbo-prop flights.”
Nunavut passengers will have early-morning and mid-afternoon flights between Ottawa and Iqaluit, and same-day connections from Ottawa to the Qikiqtani (or Baffin) region.
All flights can be booked with either airline using existing reservations websites and phone numbers.
In a joint statement, the airlines said the schedule was “designed to improve the sustainability of the merged airline by reducing excess capacity and eliminating the costly duplication of equipment and infrastructure.”
In the past, Canadian North and First Air services on the same routes frequently departed within minutes of each other.
From Yellowknife, the combined schedule offers:
- one daily 5:25pm departure to Edmonton, arriving at 7:09pm, plus 9:30pm departures to Edmonton on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, arriving at 11:25pm (removing First Air’s present daily 5pm departure);
- flights to Hay River at 7am and 5pm on weekdays, with a Sunday evening service (no change);
- a daily 10:30am departure to Inuvik (previously, the airlines had two daily departures between them on most days);
- four Iqaluit flights per week (Canadian North’s twice-weekly 9:55am departures are deleted);
- twice-daily Cambridge Bay service (one non-stop or one-stop, one a milk run);
- and a range of other flights. You can see the full schedule for Yellowknife here.
The airlines said the aim had been to simplify the schedule, adding “new flight choices while making every effort to minimize the number of stops and overnight stays required.”
The statement read: “As a merged airline, Canadian North will continue to carefully review its passenger and cargo capacity to ensure that the appropriate resources are always in place to meet the needs of its customers, with the flexibility to efficiently handle additional demand whenever necessary.”
Meanwhile, the airlines said the merged Canadian North will eventually “introduce new fare products” including new economy and beneficiary fare classes and corporate pricing. No details were yet available.
Later this year, a merged Canadian North reservations system, call centre, website, and check-in process is expected to be unveiled.
The merged airline is under a seven-year agreement not to raise prices by more than any increase in operating costs, and not to shut down routes it was operating as of April 1 this year. The agreement is overseen by the federal government, to which Canadian North must report regularly.