A Boeing 737 jet landed in Dawson City for the first time, on Wednesday.
It was part of a regularly scheduled Air North flight from Whitehorse to Dawson City, Old Crow and Inuvik.
The aircraft is specially equipped to land on gravel runways. A gravel deflector that looks like a large ski is attached to the nose of the plane, while tubes keep gravel from going inside the engines.
The flight was a “proving run,” said Joe Sparling, Air North’s president, who was one of the pilots on the flight. It gave the company the chance to fine-tune fuelling and logistical details before using the jet on more northern routes.
The company plans to use the jet once or twice a week beginning next spring or summer, he said.
The jet lowers the cost of transporting fuel and cargo. This is especially important in Old Crow, where residents receive almost everything they need by plane, said Sparling.
The flight was part of an ongoing project that involved improvements to the Dawson airport, like increasing gravel firmness and enlarging turnarounds.
“We were all very happy with it. Everything went exactly as planned,” said Sparling.
The company also plans to increase its interline-baggage agreements with other airlines. Right now, passengers connecting to Air Canada flights from Air North only need to check their bags once. A similar deal with WestJet may be in place by late fall, said Sparling.
This agreement could be made whether or not WestJet decides to return to Whitehorse for next season.