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Travel & Transport

Travellers find many Yellowknife flights are booked solid


Finding a flight to Yellowknife this month is proving increasingly difficult. Major airlines, still operating pandemic-adjusted schedules, say many aircraft are packed.

Representatives from both Air Canada and WestJet confirmed travellers may struggle to book a trip to Yellowknife between Friday and the end of March.

High interest in air travel this month has led to sold-out flights and limited options for those looking to travel from southern provinces.

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“Several Air Canada flights are indeed full,” an Air Canada spokesperson said by email. “In situations such as this, our network planning teams evaluate the possibility of adding capacity, which is dependent on crew and aircraft availability.”

Whether any capacity would in fact be added was not immediately made clear.

A check of Air Canada’s website on Thursday evening showed not one ticket available on any flight from Calgary to Yellowknife until March 29 at the earliest, though tickets may still be available through partner agencies or airline reward networks.

WestJet’s website displayed the same trend. Lowest-price economy tickets are no longer available through WestJet’s website on any flight from Calgary to Yellowknife until at least March 30. By Thursday night, even higher-priced tickets were only available on March 18, March 26 and March 27. The airline presently operates five to six Calgary-Yellowknife flights weekly. (The picture was similar for the less-frequent Edmonton-Yellowknife flights WestJet offers.)

“We are currently seeing strong demand for our flights to and from Yellowknife this month and you are correct, we are seeing a few sold-out flights,” Madison Kruger, a representative for WestJet, wrote in an email.

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“We remain grateful to the community of Yellowknife for their continued support and look forward to reconnecting guests to the vibrancy of the Northwest Territories.”

Canadian North, the other provider of direct flights between Yellowknife and Alberta, could not be reached for comment.

Yellowknife is not alone in experiencing a rush on travel. Many cities are reporting increased demand for tickets as Covid-19 restrictions lift, which – combined with rising fuel prices – has travellers anticipating higher airfares leading into the summer months.

Both Air Canada and WestJet significantly scaled back flights to and from Yellowknife as the pandemic set in, a reduction the airlines are not expected to fully reverse until May or June this year.

However, the Northwest Territories has already dropped the travel restrictions that in part prompted carriers to reduce their service. Meanwhile, March break is now under way, offering NWT families – or families visiting the territory – their first chance in years to travel relatively unencumbered by Covid-19 restrictions.

Rules that turned away tourists for almost two years have not applied since March 1, increasing demand on what was essentially a skeleton service for NWT residents and incoming workers.

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