Nakashuk presses GN for airline merger response; says Nunavut ‘not mentioned even once’ by proponents

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Pangnirtung MLA Margaret Nakashuk is urging the GN to publicly release its input into the proposed First Air and Canadian North airline merger and expressed concern that Nunavut is being overlooked in the deal.

Pangnirtung MLA Margaret Nakashuk: Wants GN to make its position public on proposed airline merger. photo courtesy of the Government of Nunavut

While defending their desire to combine forces in writing — following the Competition Bureau’s warning earlier this week of higher prices for consumers and reduced schedules as a result of a future merger — the Makivik Corporation and the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation didn’t mention Nunavut at all, Nakashuk noted in the legislative assembly on Feb. 27.

Uqqummiut MLA Pauloosie Keyootak added, “We don’t own any airlines up here in Nunavut and those airlines are profiting from Nunavut.”

David Akeeagok, minister of Economic Development and Transportation, acknowledged the GN is also concerned about reduced levels of air service.

“I can state succinctly that our constituents in Nunavut will impacted if a merger proceeds,” he said. “I personally have felt the impact in our constituency of High Arctic when only one airline provides services to a community.”

Akeeagok would not, however, promise to make public the GN’s submissions to Transport Canada until he conferred with other departments that had input.

Keyootak said existing routing is already problematic as residents in Clyde River and Qikiqtarjuaq are forced to land in Pond Inlet and Arctic Bay before heading south to Iqaluit, spending extra hours in the air and on the tarmac.

“It’s creating a huge problem for the elders and medical patients,” Keyootak said.

Akeeagok said the government has been talking to both airlines about improving the routing of their flights.