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Air North president expects a slow summer

Air North president Joe Sparling suspects it will be a long time before things return to pre-pandemic times
Air North president Joe Sparling said the relaxing of self-isolation rules will be good for the business, but he still expects a slow summer. (Mike Thomas/Yukon News)

Air North president Joe Sparling said the easing of COVID-19 restrictions will help the company moving forward.

“I think that it is obviously going to help our business quite a lot and I think Yukoners are becoming, once they are vaccinated, anxious to travel without self-isolating,” said Sparling.

Sparling said there has been a “bit of an uptick” in flight bookings since the announcement. He suspects the trend will continue throughout the summer.

“It will be a little bit more difficult for people outside of the territory to come in because they haven’t been double vaccinated yet,” said Sparling. “We are pretty lucky up here, most of us have had our double vaccinations.

“But I think there is a lot of pent-up desire for people to get together with friends and family.”

Although there is a way to go before things return to normal, Sparling said the announcement is like the light at the end of the tunnel.

“You know it has been a struggle with the travel restrictions. People certainly heeded the advice to stay home and they’ve been doing that,” said Sparling.

“Yet, we have to keep flights going to move cargo and do medical travel so it has been a bit of a tough go. But, I think when the leisure travel component begins to add to the mix of people on the airplane it will make a big difference.”

Sparling said he hopes things pick up so the airline can begin hiring back staff, but he isn’t predicting a busy summer.

“I don’t think it’s going to be an overnight return to how it was pre-pandemic,” said Sparling. “In fact, I think it will be a long time before things are back to where they were before. Hopefully, there will be some good growth.”

Sparling said Air North has planned as “best we can” for the expected slow summer months.

Earlier this week, the Tourism Industry Association President Neil Hartling and several tourism operators said that they are still anticipating a poor summer, in spite of the relaxed rules.

Contact John Tonin at