Flights resume after weeks of poor weather, cancellations in coastal Labrador

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Air Borealis says backlog of passengers and cargo all cleared up by Thursday

CBC News · Posted: Aug 16, 2019 2:23 PM NT | Last Updated: 39 minutes ago

Phillip Earle of Air Borealis said this type of lingering fog, seen here in Nain, is unusual. (Submitted by Jenny Oliver)

Rain, drizzle and fog left Labrador’s coastal communities from Nain to Makkovik isolated for the better part of several weeks, but things are back on track.

“I would say we’re back to a normal operation now, we’ve got very little cargo or mail in our facility, passenger backlog has been cleared,” Philip Earle, a vice-president with Air Borealis, said Thursday morning. 

Earle said the weather cleared at Nain and Natuashish over the weekend before moving south, affecting Postville and Makkovik for a “more typical” day or two — but the extended grounding of flights is over.

“It’s been since mid-May that we’ve operated a full seven days of service into the coastal communities,” he told CBC Radio’s Labrador Morning, with Nain and Natuashish cut off for 10 full days earlier this month.

There’s no argument, this has been a horrible weather summer.

Philip Earle , Vice-President, Air Borealis

“There’s no argument, this has been a horrible weather summer, and it has had a very negative impact on us.”

The Torngat Mountains remain fogged in, hitting 19 days without a fixed-wing aircraft being able to land – and although a helicopter has been able to make some trips, guests have been stuck waiting.

‘Huge change in the weather’

Earle said he doesn’t know whether climate change is to blame for this year’s unusually consistent rain, drizzle, fog and wind.

“We see huge change in the weather,” he said.

Philip Earle, a vice-president with Air Borealis, says people and cargo are now moving more regularly to Labrador’s north coast. (Jacob Barker/CBC)

Normally, Earle said, they would see low pressure systems move up from the U.S., but now, the weather systems are born over the Arctic.

“They’re going offshore and they stop,” explained Earle.

He said that makes the lows spin counterclockwise, bringing cold wind off of the Atlantic Ocean that condenses into rain, drizzle and fog and forces planes to stay on the ground. 

“We are that last link in the supply chain to the communities,” Earle said, as a weekly marine service is the only other connection.

With files from Labrador Morning