First Air grounds Whitehorse flight

First Air has cut service from Yellowknife to Whitehorse. The northern airline will discontinue its thrice-weekly flight beginning March 27th.

First Air has cut service from Yellowknife to Whitehorse.

The northern airline will discontinue its thrice-weekly flight beginning March 27th.

The service was no longer profitable, said Chris Ferris, First Air’s vice-president of marketing and sales.

“Putting it simply, we didn’t generate enough money to contribute to our bottom line,” he said.

“The market was pretty thin.”

Ferris wouldn’t say exactly how many people were using the service, but did explain that many passengers are now taking cheaper flights through Vancouver and Edmonton.

First Air looked at reducing the number of flights per week between Whitehorse and Yellowknife but realized it wouldn’t be possible.

Offering service once a week wouldn’t work with people’s travel plans, he said.

Already, many of its customers were only using First Air to do one-way trips, grabbing another flight on a different airline to return home.

“Reducing the frequency wasn’t an option; three times a week was the minimum we could offer,” said Ferris.

First Air will continue offering flights from Yellowknife to Fort Simpson, Northwest Territories six days a week. The town is currently a scheduled stop en route to Whitehorse.

“Yellowknife to Fort Simpson has been a stronger market,” he said.

First Air wants to focus its resources on expanding service throughout Nunavut, a “busier hub” than the Northwest.

“On paper it sounds good to offer service to all three territories, but it just didn’t make sense,” he said.

“So we’re expanding our service where it’s most needed.”

The company may enter into talks with Air North to share cargo services between both capital cities, Ferris added.

Canada’s only other pan-northern airline, Canadian North, doesn’t fly from Whitehorse to Yellowknife.

Beginning next month, people in Whitehorse who want to go to Yellowknife will have to fly south to Edmonton or Vancouver before flying north again.

Contact Vivian Belik at

vivianb@yukon-news.com

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