Coronavirus
Economy

Air North cancels remaining summer 2020 YK-Ottawa flights


Air North says the Covid-19 pandemic has forced it to cancel all remaining summer 2020 flights between Whitehorse, Yellowknife, and Ottawa.

The flights – Yellowknife’s only scheduled passenger service direct to either Yukon or Ontario – have been seasonal since January 2019, when their frequency was reduced.

This summer’s service had been scheduled to begin in May but, like many other flights across Canada, was disrupted by the pandemic.

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On Wednesday, Air North said it could no longer offer a small number of flights at the end of August as initially hoped.

In a statement, the company said heightened competition, new regulations, and the problem of selling middle seats on aircraft had contributed to the decision.

“There’s been a lot of news coverage lately about other carriers starting to sell middle seats. In our small market, we know that not everybody is ready to get on a full airplane,” said Joe Sparling, Air North’s president and chief executive, in a statement.

“Right now, this means we will not be selling or assigning middle seats other than to passengers belonging to the same social bubble, such as families or workforce travellers whose workforce travel programs have unique and robust safety protocols.”

The airline says capping the number of middle seats it sells would not be commercially viable on the Whitehorse-Yellowknife-Ottawa route.

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Air North will instead “closely monitor” developments ahead of deciding whether to reinstate the service for the Christmas season.

Passengers with booked flights affected by Wednesday’s announcement will be offered a travel credit valid for 24 months from the date of travel.

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