Northern operators keep flying while taking necessary precautions

On March 19, Joseph Sparling, president of Whitehorse-based Air North, issued a statement saying that while the carrier will remain operational amid the COVID-19 outbreak, it is being forced to scale back operations.

Air North’s Joseph Sparling said that due to the increased necessity for air operations in the North, the airline doesn’t expect a steep drop in demand. Simon Blakesley Photo
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In the statement, Sparling said that due to decreased demand amid the pandemic, the airline “was seeing a need to cancel and consolidate certain flights on our network.”

While a number of airlines that operate in the south have had to completely suspend operations during the crisis, Sparling remarked that Air North “know[s] that air travel in the north is more of an essential service than in the south,” and the airline doesn’t expect demand to drop significantly.

For passengers affected by any of the schedule changes, Sparling said the carrier will do its best to re-accommodate them with “minimal inconvenience”, and it would be working with other carriers in order to maximize options for travellers.

Sparling also stressed the airline is doing what it can to practice social distancing through continuing operations.

“We are continuously monitoring and following advice from the Public Health Agency of Canada to minimize the risk of exposure to COVID-19 to our passengers, employees and the communities we serve,” he said.

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Sparling’s statement came a day after Air Inuit stated it would also be continuing operations, though they would be heavily scaled back as well.

“According to the most recent governmental information, the risk of being exposed to the virus that causes COVID-19 remains low,” the Quebec-based operator said in the statement.

Regardless, the airline announced that as of March 22 its scheduled flights have been considerably reduced to minimum service, medevac and essential cargo deliveries to its Northern communities.

Both companies stressed that while these are the plans for now, they will remain proactive and their plans will adapt as the situation develops further.

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