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Since the Nov. 1 merger of Canadian North and First Air, Amittuq MLA Joelie Kaernerk said he hasn’t heard from one constituent who is satisfied with the airlines joining forces.

“The airline is the one that runs their business. We are not able to do anything about that,” said Transportation Minister David Akeeagok. Photo courtesy of Canadian North

It’s particularly unpopular with Hall Beach residents who have to fly south for medical appointments or to the regional hubs on Saturdays, said Kaernerk. A Saturday trip from Hall Beach to Iqaluit entails stops in Iglulik, Arctic Bay, Resolute and then, finally, to Nunavut’s capital.

Kaernerk said he realizes this is due to economics for the airline, but he asked the minister of transportation what he can do about it in the legislative assembly on Wednesday.

David Akeeagok replied, “I believe that what you are bringing up has been something that has been difficult for many travellers.”

Akeeagok said he has raised the issue with the head of the federally-created committee that is overseeing the effects of the airline merger, but there’s little that can be done.

“The airline is the one that runs their business. We are not able to do anything about that,” he said.

Akeeagok said there’s not much flexibility when booking travel for health purposes either.

“For the medical travel patients from Hall Beach or Iglulik, the nurses know if they have
the patients fly on a Saturday, they’re going to take that long route, but they have to
consider the wishes of the doctor as well,” the transportation minister said. “I don’t think we can just stop that. When someone needs to go to the hospital, they will have to use that plane to get to the hospital. We’re trying to look at it from different perspectives, especially for our elders who have to fly.”

However, Akeeagok added that his department, combined with the Department of Health and the Department of Community and Government Services, is planning to hire an employee to keep an eye on airline merger developments and possible improvements that could be made.

“The three departments are always looking and monitoring the situation,” he said.

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Derek Neary

Derek Neary has been reporting on developments in the North for 18 years. When he's not writing for Nunavut News, he's working on Northern News Services' special publications such as Opportunities North,...

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