An Alkan Air Cessna approaches the Whitehorse runway in October 2016. The company has announced it will end scheduled flights between Whitehorse and Watson Lake this fall. (Pierre Chauvin/Yukon News file)

Alkan Air to cancel Watson Lake flights

‘I’m not sure what kind of arrangements are going to be made’

Watson Lake residents are soon going to lose another transportation option.

Alkan Air will cease service between Whitehorse and Watson Lake on Sept. 30. The announcement comes soon after Greyhound’s final bus journey through the Yukon

The average cost of a one-way flight from Watson Lake to Whitehorse is $325. On its website, the company said the service is ending due to a decline in passengers.

“It has been Alkan Air’s sincere pleasure to serve the community over the past two years. However, current passenger volumes are not permitting regularly scheduled flight service to be operationally viable,” the company said in a statement on its website.

A company spokesperson was not immediately available.

Cam Lockwood, Watson Lake’s chief administrative officer, said it’s a big setback for the small community.

“There’s a lot of frustration I think, frustration and uncertainty,” he said.

When Alkan launched the flight in 2016, there were three flights per week to Whitehorse. That was eventually dropped to two flights per week on Mondays and Fridays. When flying is no longer an option, the only way residents will be able to travel out of town is by car, said Lockwood. The lack of flights could be a problem for those who need to travel for medical reasons.

“It’s definitely going to impact them hugely,” he said. “Some people don’t have a family that they can reach out to to drive them [to Whitehorse], so I’m not sure what kind of arrangements are going to be made, or can be made.”

Lockwood cited the need for a medical shuttle, but so far no one has stepped forward to offer such a service. The Yukon government has flatly ruled out running its own bus service.

“I guess that’s a question that we have to put back to the government to see if they’re working on other options for medical travel.” he said.

The cancellation may also affect local outfitters, who have been using Alkan to fly hunters in and out of Watson Lake.

Without the flights, Watson Lake residents are running out of travel options.

“When you start comparing it’s about $700 for a round trip, so it’s not a cheap option, but it is an option.”

Contact Kallan Lyons at kallan.lyons@yukon-news.com

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