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Aklak Air cuts back to two passenger flights per week


Aklak Air, which connects a range of Arctic coastal communities to Inuvik, will operate just two passenger flights per week in an effort to remain operational.

The airline is the latest to announce drastic changes as the coronavirus pandemic wipes out almost all demand for air travel in the NWT and across the globe.

In a statement on Wednesday, Aklak Air general manager Ken Dalton said the sudden drop-off in government and business travel meant “current passenger loads are unsustainable.”

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He added: “We may be required to reduce service further if flight demand does not return.”

For now, there will be a Monday 2:30pm departure from Inuvik calling at Sachs Harbour and Ulukhaktok before returning to Mike Zubko Airport.

Each Wednesday, a 2:30pm departure from Inuvik will complete a round trip between the town and Paulatuk.

The Aklak Air reservation office will be open 11am-3pm, Monday to Friday.

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“We will add additional flights where necessary,” said Dalton, “and we will continue to ensure the movement of essential goods into the communities is not affected.”

Dalton urged residents and businesses affected by the changes to “reach out to your GNWT representatives to explain how this service is vital to you and encourage them to help.”

Other northern airlines have made similar cutbacks in recent days.

Air Tindi has laid off or redeployed a third of its staff, while Northwestern Air Lease (NWAL) in Fort Smith has lost senior staff and similarly reduced operations.

Jim Heidema, who had been NWAL’s chief operating officer, said on Monday he had left the company. “The aviation industry in the world is in shambles,” he wrote online.

“NWAL has drastically reduced its flights and is in the process of laying off some of its team members.

“Worry not, for NWAL will survive and emerge again as a fine aviation company.”

In Norman Wells, North-Wright Airways suspended services between Yellowknife and the Sahtu, saying the region needed to be protected from Covid-19.

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