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Grounded in Baker Lake, Arviat

Darrell Greer
Northern News Services

Iqaluit (May 15/06) - Kivalliq Air has ceased service to the hamlets of Arviat and Baker Lake.

The move becomes effective today, May 15.

Kivalliq Air Northern base manager John McFee said the company made the decision after it became obvious there wasn't enough passenger traffic to support the flights to the two communities.

He said the lack of passengers was the sole reason for the airline's decision.

"We tried as much as we could to build up traffic along those routes, but it's been a battle all the way and one we can no longer afford to wage at this time," said McFee.

"We accepted the fact we were going to lose money for a little while as we tried to establish ourselves in those communities.

"But we haven't seen any indication there will be improvement, despite our best efforts to build up traffic."

Kivalliq Air was supplying daily flights into the two communities at the time the decision was made to discontinue the service.

McFee said he feels badly for the communities because it's important to have competition in the industry.

He said hopefully the day will come when Kivalliq Air will be able to fly into Arviat and Baker on a regular basis.

"We sent out letters to the two hamlet councils involved, expressing our regret at having to make this decision.

"They're worried this may lead to higher ticket prices in their communities and I don't doubt that at all.

"One of the immediate effects of our flying into the two communities was for ticket prices to come down for travellers going in and out.

"One reason I feel so badly about this is that they're probably correct about prices going back up," he said.

McFee said the decision to discontinue flights into Baker and Arviat won't affect the rest of the Kivalliq.

He said the airline will continue to service Coral Harbour, Repulse Bay, Chesterfield Inlet, Whale Cove and Rankin Inlet.

"This move actually allows us to focus our service on the rest of the Kivalliq communities.

"We will continue to provide connections throughout the rest of the region, Churchill and Winnipeg."