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Grise Fiord's airstrip is too short for Kenn Borek Air's less-expensive Beech 99 airplane. They have to use the Twin Otter instead - which costs twice as much to operate. - Will Ferguson

Grise Fiord flights of despair

Jillian Dickens
Northern News Services

Grise Fiord (Nov 07/05) - It costs more to fly from Grise Fiord to Resolute Bay than it does from Toronto to London, England.

Living in Canada's northern-most community just keeps getting more and more expensive.

On Oct. 10, Kenn Borek Air - the only commercial carrier servicing Grise Fiord - imposed a five per cent increase on ticket prices to compensate for rising fuel costs.

Now, if you want to fly from Grise to Resolute, you'll have to shell out $911.64 return for an 85 minute flight one way.

"This is ridiculous," said Grise Fiord's senior administrative officer Will Ferguson. "There are no alternatives but to fly in goods and services.

There are no ice roads or trails to go to other communities by land.

There is only one airline serving our community so there is no competition to reduce costs.

We have no choice but to use KBA."

KBA manager Joan Griffin says the company has no choice on the fare rates.

Because Grise Fiord's airport landing strip is relatively short, only certain aircraft can land there.

"The length of strip in Grise means only the Twin Otter can land there," said Griffin. "It's a bigger airplane, and it's slower so it sucks more fuel."

The Kimmirut airstrip poses the same problem, says Griffin.

Aside from those two communities, KBA uses the Beech 99 aircraft, which operates at half the cost of the Twin Otter.

"We understand there are additional costs in living in the High Arctic, but they shouldn't be three times the cost," said Ferguson.

The hamlet took action last week and sent a letter demanding help from the government.

"We ask the federal government to pursue alternatives that they may have in their efforts to assist the community through their sovereignty programs. If you are unable to provide alternative transportation, we believe the residents of Grise Fiord are entitled to travel vouchers on a regular basis," reads the letter.

The hamlet sent it to Prime Minister Paul Martin, Nunavut's Member of Parliament Nancy Karetak-Lindell Premier Paul Okalik, Quttiktuq MLA Levi Barnabas, NDP leader Jack Layton and Conservative leader Steven Harper.

Airports fall under territorial government jurisdiction.

Director of Nunavut airports David Ittinuar failed to return repeated phone calls.

Karetak-Lindell also did not return calls.