Air Tindi, whose flights help to sustain a range of NWT communities, is making severe cuts to its staff and schedule in a bid to remain operational during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The airline said on Friday it had laid off or repurposed a third of its staff and cut its schedule by more than half. The actions were needed to “ensure the survival of the company,” a statement posted to Twitter read.
Air Tindi said it would now “focus on ensuring a full medevac fleet” to perform evacuations in medical communities across the territory.
Flights to the airline’s “partner communities” and remote locations are also a priority. The measures will last until June 1 at the earliest.
The airline said it was keeping all aircraft and facilities clean.
“These changes are very difficult but we feel that, by being proactive, we will be back doing what we do best as soon as our communities and economy recover,” said the airline’s president, Chris Reynolds, in a statement.
Meanwhile, Canadian North said some passengers would now face mandatory screening on check-in at the request of the governments of Nunavut and Nunavik.
Passengers flying with Canadian North from Yellowknife, Edmonton, Ottawa, and Iqaluit will be asked about their travel history and invited to declare any symptoms before boarding can be granted.
The full set of questions, which vary by departure point, was posted to Canadian North’s website.
NWT ‘doing everything it can’ for airlines
At a news conference on Friday, industry minister Katrina Nokleby said what to do in terms of financially assisting northern airlines was “a large question.”
“The supports for the airlines are obviously going to be the same supports for other businesses. We’re hearing about the essential need for airlines and our community resupply,” Nokleby told reporters.
“We’re going to be doing everything we can to ensure that flights continue to the communities and our airlines can survive, they are a critical piece of our supply chain.
“At some point, we’ll be having a discussion with the federal government about airlines.”
Nokleby said the vital role airlines play in food resupply to communities was being emphasized to the federal government.
“The food supply chain is a critical piece everyone is looking at right now, and the federal government is on that,” she said.
“They recognize we are not the same as Ontario and other places.”