Commencement of New Flight Dispatch Department

From Air North

WHITEHORSE, YT – 8 June 2020 – Air North, Yukon’s Airline becomes first Canadian airline to have entire flight operations offices located north of 60°.

With their opening of a Type A Operations Control Dispatch Centre in the coming weeks, Air North, Yukon’s Airline will become the first major Canadian airline whose entire flight operations offices are located in northern Canada.  

The new flight dispatch office will provide the opportunity to route aircraft more efficiently by increasing the number of approved flight paths available. The various route options will allow pilots and dispatchers to take advantage of different winds to operate faster flights with less turbulence, while helping to conserve fuel.

Since the start of Boeing 737 jet service in 2002, Air North’s flight dispatch services have been contracted to a company based in Calgary, Alberta. By bringing this service in-house, Air North will add six highly-skilled jobs to the Yukon labour market, with many dispatchers transferring from different positions within the company. Air North has also developed a flight dispatch training program, as the company hopes to continue to provide career development opportunities for employees and Yukoners.  

“The opening of Air North’s Flight Dispatch Centre is not only a significant accomplishment for the company, but for the north overall,” says Chad Wilson, Chief Dispatcher for Air North, and project lead on getting the program off the ground. “Flight dispatchers’ primary focus is flight safety – from filing flight plans to monitoring weather and continuously tracking the progress of all flights, they play an integral role in flight operations. To be able to provide this skilled service and training program is really a first here in the Yukon. It’s an honour to be a part of it.”

Air North’s Flight Dispatch Centre is set to commence operations 15 June 2020.

Airlines say they can’t restart without government help, with small carriers particularly vulnerable

News from The Globe and Mail – link to full story


Edmonton-based discount carrier Flair Airlines has slashed its schedule, idled four of its seven Boeing 737s and most of its 400 employees are getting the emergency wage subsidy. HO/THE CANADIAN PRESS

Small Canadian airlines grounded amid the COVID-19 pandemic say without government aid, they will be unable to restart when demand for air travel returns. And Air Canada and WestJet Airlines say they, too, need and deserve more help from Ottawa.

The federal government has announced some help for the air transport sector, such as waiving rent payments for airport authorities until December and loans to some airlines from Export Development Canada (EDC). The 75-per-cent emergency wage subsidy for businesses has also kept thousands of idled airline employees from being laid off.

Ottawa has said more help is on the way for airlines and other industries devastated by shutdowns and social distancing measures aimed at slowing the killer virus.

Even so, small airlines are in danger of failing, said John McKenna, head of Air Transport Association of Canada, which represents 75 of the country’s small carriers, including Air Inuit and Air North.

More at The Globe and Mail

Air North puts on brave face as COVID-19 rocks airline industry

News provided by CBC News – link to full story and updates

‘We’re gonna get through it,’ says company president Joe Sparling

CBC News · Posted: Mar 20, 2020

Air North president Joe Sparling expects to see about a 35 per cent drop in the number of passengers this month, compared to last March. April may be worse. (Submitted by Air North)

The president of Yukon’s Air North says the COVID-19 pandemic has created an “unprecedented set of circumstances” for his airline, but says the company will get through it.

“Without a doubt, we’re going to be operating on a smaller scale for at least a period of time. We don’t know how long that’s going to go on, and we don’t know how small we’re going to have to get,” Joe Sparling said.

“There’s adjustments being made every day, and you know we’re doing our best to communicate with passengers.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a “cataclysmic” impact on airlines around the world. International fleets are being grounded and domestic routes restricted.

Air Canada is set to lay off more than 5,100 members of its cabin crews because of a dramatic drop in flights. The company has suspended dozens of routes across Canada and the U.S. for the coming weeks, including some to Yellowknife. Air Canada’s flights to Whitehorse will continue, however.

Sparling is also preparing for rough days ahead.

He said his airline has seen a “flurry of traffic” recently as some Yukoners still opt to travel for spring break and others return from abroad. He expects that to wind down in the coming days, but can’t predict much beyond that.

“We’re just watching the bookings every day. I can tell you that for the last week or so, we’ve been processing more cancellations than we have new bookings — by a long shot.”

‘There’s adjustments being made every day, and you know we’re doing our best to communicate with passengers,’ said Sparling.

Sparling expects to see about a 35 per cent drop in the number of passengers this month, compared to last March. April may be worse.

“It’s probably going to be a more telling statistic and we don’t have a handle on that one quite yet,” he said.

Sparling did not say whether he expects to lay off any Air North staff. He said Thursday that he has a few employees now in self-isolation and unable to come to work.

“But we’re also decreasing the number of flights that we operate so you know, right now one is kind of paralleling the other,” he said.

Keeping planes clean and sanitized

Sparling said his airline is taking other measures to ensure passengers are safe. He says crew have stepped up efforts to keep cabins clean and sanitized. Earlier this week, the airline removed blankets, pillows, magazines and brochures from all planes.

As a pilot, Sparling is also keeping the cockpit door closed more often, and says flight crew may be interacting less with passengers.

“It’s always nice to be able to get out and say goodbye to everybody, but [we] might have to do a little bit less of that,” he said.

The airline is also considering changes to in-flight service, such as cancelling the meal service. Sparling says they’re evaluating “anything and everything.”

He’s not too worried about the long-term though, saying Air North is in good shape to weather the storm.

“Nobody knows how long this is going to go on … But you know, we’re gonna get through it.”

With files from Mike Rudyk

Air North Announces July Service Between Halifax and Whitehorse

Provided by Air North

WHITEHORSE, YT – 6 March 2020 – Today Air North, Yukon’s Airline announced a series of flights between Halifax, Nova Scotia and Whitehorse, Yukon.

This limited-edition route will operate between 9 July and 18 July 2020. The service is being introduced in order to support travel for Indigenous youth attending the 2020 North American Indigenous Games hosted in Halifax, NS this summer.

“We are excited to be able to provide service to Halifax this summer and connect with the Eastern coast of Canada. We believe it will offer many benefits, both for passengers across Canada and the Indigenous youth athletes,” says Benjamin Ryan, Air North’s Chief Commercial Officer.

“As always, driving tourism to the Yukon is one of our primary focuses, and we look forward to welcoming visitors from the East Coast to the territory on our comfortable Boeing 737-500. We are also excited to stimulate tourism within the cities it connects with, creating opportunities for people from across Canada to travel to and from Halifax via our route system,” continues Mr. Ryan.

The service to Halifax will operate as an extension on two of the company’s current routes to Ottawa, ON and Vancouver, BC. Introductory fares from Whitehorse to Halifax will start at $399 one-way and are available for a limited time only.

Air North’s service between Whitehorse, Yellowknife and Ottawa will not face interruption by these flights, with scheduled service remaining between 30 May 2020 and 1 September 2020. The company also announced this week on social media their service between Yellowknife and Vancouver will resume 5 December 2020.

The current Whitehorse/Halifax schedule is as follows:

DateFlight Path
July 9, 17, 18Whitehorse > Yellowknife > Ottawa > Halifax
July 10Halifax > Ottawa > Vancouver > Whitehorse
July 12, 13Halifax > Ottawa > Yellowknife > Whitehorse
July 18Whitehorse > Vancouver > Halifax*

* Fuel stop in Winnipeg required.

Air North aims to halve fuel consumption per passenger by 2023

News provided by CBC News – link to full story and updates

Upgrading to newer jets, filling more seats will improve fuel efficiency, says airline president

CBC News · Posted: Feb 03, 2020

The president of Air North says the airline is looking to upgrade its fleet with newer, more fuel-efficient jets. (Air North)

The president of Air North says the airline is looking to upgrade its fleet and make flying more efficient.

“In our view, you know, we can cut the fuel consumed per passenger by about 50 per cent,” said Joe Sparling.

 “Our goal is to do that within three years — it’s a pretty neat target, and it’s an easily quantifiable one.”

Sparling says the idea is to upgrade the company’s fleet of Boeing 737 jets. Right now, the company has four 737-500s and one 737-400 in its fleet.

The newest generation of jets are more fuel-efficient, Sparling says. Newer aircraft could save up to 3.7 million litres of fuel per year, per aircraft.

In a letter to company shareholders this month Sparling called upgrading the fleet a “major undertaking, possibly the biggest in our 43-year history.” 

Air North president Joe Sparling (CBC)

At the same time, Sparling is counting on a growing market to fill more seats. 

“A full aircraft is the most efficient way to fly,” Sparling’s letter states.

“We could decrease the fuel consumption by 27 per cent per passenger on our 737-500s if we filled every seat.”

Sparling said the Yukon-based company is also looking for other ways to reduce its environmental footprint, by reviewing its baggage policy, on-board products, and the heating of its facilities.

Sparling compares scheduled flight service in the North to a power grid.

“Everyone uses it, and it’s an essential service in the North,” he told CBC.

“When you read about, you know in the environmental context, the notion of ‘flight shaming,’ you know, encouraging people to stay home — it’s a little tougher to do that in the North.”

With files from Leonard Linklater

Air North introducing direct flights between Yellowknife and Vancouver in January

News provided by CBC News – link to full story

CBC News · November 8

The flight will be offered twice a week, on Mondays and Fridays

Air North will start running a new direct flight between Yellowknife and Vancouver in mid-January, according to Air North spokesperson Ben Ryan.

Yellowknife will be getting another direct flight to Vancouver.

Air North will start running the new flights starting in mid-January, according to Air North spokesperson Ben Ryan. Air Canada also offers direct flights between the Northwest Territories capital and Vancouver. 

The flight will be offered twice a week, on Mondays and Fridays.

Ryan said the airline is hoping to capitalize on aurora tourists and Yellowknifers wanting a weekend escape to Vancouver.

He said the flights will also make it easier for people from Yellowknife to get to Whitehorse, as there will be a short, one hour turn around between the flights in Vancouver.

With files from Marilyn Robak

Air North employees might not be able to use cannabis 2 months before work

Airline president Joe Sparling says the science is still ‘coming in’ on the effects of cannabis usage

Air North has a zero-tolerance policy for drug and alcohol impairment, which now includes legal cannabis, says president and CEO Joe Sparling. (Air North)

Air North employees in safety-sensitive positions mostly likely will not be able to consume cannabis within 60 days of any shift, says the head of the Yukon-based airline.

The ban is part of Air North’s existing zero-tolerance policy for drug and alcohol impairment, says president and CEO Joe Sparling.

In an email to CBC News, Sparling said the science is still “coming in” on the effects of cannabis usage.

“With the legalization of cannabis and the significant differences between the characteristics of cannabis and alcohol we know that our current policies with respect to alcohol (no consumption within 12 hours) will not be appropriate for cannabis,” he wrote.

Other airlines, military impose strict rules

Sparling said he understands that the military has employed a 28-day abstention period for cannabis consumption, while some air carriers have imposed bans of up to 45 days for employees.

“In reality, 28 days or 45 days or no use amount to pretty much the same thing for anybody who works with any degree of regularity,” reads Sparling’s email.

“In an effort to provide some reconciliation with the available science we are currently working our way towards a 60-day abstention policy for safety sensitive positions.”

Canadian North has prohibited pilots, flight attendants and others in safety-sensitive positions from using cannabis, even when they’re off duty.

Another northern airline, First Air, says all of its employees must be “fit for duty” at all times. A spokesperson says the definition of “fit for duty” based on Transport Canada guidelines on legal cannabis.

– With files from Alexandra Byers and Meagan Deuling

Experience the Northern Lights on board an Air North Boeing 737

Consulta Meta has officially announced the launch of the Aurora | 360 Experience, the most exciting way to see the Northern Lights. This exclusive opportunity offers guests a once-in-a-lifetime chance to enjoy the Northern Lights by private-chartered Boeing 737 jet (operated by Air North) for unrivalled, eye level Northern Lights viewing.  It’s the only flight in the world to take off within the Aurora Oval, offering the chance for Aurora viewing shortly after take-off.

The full Aurora | 360 Experience is February 7th to 11th, 2019, with the flight scheduled to take-off either February 8th or 9th (the flight date will be chosen a few days earlier based on Aurora forecasts). The five-day package not only offers serious bragging rights, but will provide high-altitude views of the spectacular Aurora in the Yukon sky combined with unique culinary components, industry leading guest speakers, cultural events, optional day tours and more.  With only 80 seats available, the Aurora | 360 Experience gives passengers the unique opportunity to fly above the clouds, and witness the Aurora Borealis closer than ever before.  As part of the package the passengers get to learn more about the Aurora Borealis from renowned guest speakers: Dr. Phil Plait (aka the Bad Astronomer), Dr. Christa Van Laerhoven (B.Sc. Physics & Astronomy/ Ph.D. Planetary Sciences), William Murtagh (White House Office of Science and Technology Policy as the assistant director for Space Weather, Energy, and Environment Division), and Pierre Paquette (Astronomy Ambassador of The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada).

“The Aurora Borealis is truly one of the world’s greatest celestial phenomenons, and we are proud to offer this unparalleled experience,” says Anthony Gucciardo, Owner and President of Consulta Meta. “It’s a bucketlist worthy moment you’ll never forget.  We can’t wait to get airborne!”

“The Northern Lights are one of the Yukon’s biggest attractions. We had great success last year with the pilot project, so we’re understandably thrilled it’s being reintroduced and made even better,” says Robin Anderson, Global Marketing Manager at Tourism Yukon.  “Last year passengers saw the Aurora Borealis just nine minutes after take-off and the lights continued for 3 straight hours.  We hope they break that record this year!”

Once on board, guests can relax and enjoy the incredible views while sipping a celebratory gin from Yukon’s award-winning Yukon Brewing company and Canadian Aurora photographer, Neil Zeller will assist with helping passengers to take their own Aurora photos.

There are two Aurora | 360 flight options available:

  1. Aurora | 360 flight only for $1,045 (taxes included)
  2. Aurora | 360 Experience: Includes the Aurora | 360 flight, 4 nights accommodation in Whitehorse, 3 distinctive Yukon-flare dinners, cultural activities, entry to Takhini Hot Springs, a guided tour of Yukon Wildlife preserve and more for just  $2,939 CAD (taxes included)