Airlines look to revive direct flights between Iqaluit and Nuuk

The route could be the first of several linking Canada to Greenland.

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Nunavut airline Canadian North plans to bring back service between Iqaluit and Nuuk. (Nunatsiaq News file photo)

Canadian North and Air Greenland have announced plans to work towards re-establishing a direct route between Iqaluit and Nuuk.

The two airlines announced this week a letter of intent, signed earlier this year, to “look for opportunities to work together, and to connect Greenland to Canada,” said Chris Avery, the president and CEO of Canadian North.

Johnny Adams, the executive chairman at Canadian North, made the announcement on Wednesday, Dec. 10, during a virtual presentation at the Greenland 2020 Conference, hosted by the Confederation of Danish Industry in Denmark.

Air Greenland offered flights between Iqaluit and Nuuk from 2012 to 2014, before concluding there weren’t enough passengers to support the route. In 2019, Greenland’s government, which owns the airline, rejected a plan to revive it, opting instead to focus on new airport construction.

Avery isn’t discouraged by the route’s rocky history. With vaccine rollouts, he’s looking beyond the pandemic, towards a revival of the economy and the tourism industry.

“I think this is the right time for it,” Avery said in an interview with Nunatsiaq News.

An Iqaluit-Nuuk flight could be one of several routes to fly between Nunavut and Greenland, all of which are in early stages, Avery said.

The airstrip in Nuuk, Greenland needs to be extended before 737s can land there. That work is supposed to be finished by 2022. Ilulissat’s runway similarly needs to be extended, Avery said.

The flight between Iqaluit and Nuuk is one hour by jet, and about two hours on a turbo propeller plane, said a spokesperson for Canadian North.

When Nunavut went into lockdown in March, Canadian North focused on surviving while continuing to provide critical services to Nunavut, Nunavik and the Northwest Territories, said Avery.

“It feels really good to be looking ahead,” he said.

Canadian North merged with First Air last year, after years of negotiations.

The airline is adding a Boeing 737-700 to its fleet next year.

“As things grow,” it may be used for a direct flight between Toronto to Nuuk, Avery said.