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Whitehorse-to-Yellowknife flights to take off by spring
New Air North route opens up opportunities for German tourism market

Daron Letts
Northern News Services
Published Tuesday, November 19, 2013

SOMBA K'E/YELLOWKNIFE
A new twice-weekly Air North route connecting Yellowknife with Whitehorse and Ottawa will open opportunities for the German tourism market, according to the executive director of NWT Tourism.

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An Air North Boeing 737, such as this one, will fly up to 120 passengers on a twice-weekly route between Whitehorse, Yellowknife and Ottawa beginning in the first quarter of 2014, according to company president Joe Sparling. - photo courtesy of Air North

Brian Desjardins said Yellowknife will benefit from the Yukon-based airline's emerging new service thanks to German-based Condor Airline's existing direct flights that link Whitehorse with Frankfurt, Germany.

"We're very excited," Desjardins said. "We have a general sales agent in (Dusseldorf) Germany who has been made aware of this announcement, so now we will be working hard to promote to that country and to that market the ability to continue on from Whitehorse, Yukon, to Yellowknife and the NWT."

The Yukon-based airline plans to launch the new route by spring of 2014, according to Air North president Joe Sparling.

"I think there's a significant market segment of Yukon customers who have an interest in travelling to eastern Canada and the direct route will provide some significant cost and travel time savings and we're optimistic that it's going to be successful," he said. "It's been in the thinking stages for about six months."

The company is looking to partner with an NWT-based airline to supply baggage-handling and other ground services in Yellowknife.

The Boeing 737 seats up to 120 passengers for each flight.

The new flights linking Yellowknife and Whitehorse will also assist with the NWT's secondary European markets, such as Switzerland and the Netherlands, Desjardins said.

"We see this as the building of a strong partnership and relationship with our friends Yukon Tourism," he said. "Now, when they're marketing over there, we're certainly going to hope to partner with them on some of the advertising campaigns."

A fly-in-and-drive RV package offered by British Columbia-based Fraserway RV between Yellowknife and Whitehorse will also get a boost from the flights linking the territorial capitals, Desjardins said.

Following last year's pilot project involving one-way road trips between Calgary and Yellowknife, and Yellowknife and Whitehorse, Fraserway RV determined the journey between the two territorial capitals was favoured by the nine German tour groups who took the scenic drive. As a result, the company will focus on the RV route between Whitehorse and Yellowknife, said Fraserway RV spokesperson David Frolik.

Frolik said the new flights between Yellowknife and Whitehorse offer more travel options for European RV adventure tourists.

"The more options there are the better it's going to be," he said.

In addition to its regional Yukon flights, Air North has run flights to Inuvik since the late 1980s. The company's jet routes run four days a week to Calgary and Edmonton in winter and six days a week in summer, and twice a week to Vancouver.

"Just as Yellowknife has been caught in the crossfire of turf-war battles between the mainline carriers, we've been caught in the same dynamic over here and this is a strategy to strengthen our position in this market," Sparling said.

"Northern carriers in general find themselves at a disadvantage when they only fly out of the North to one or perhaps two gateways and the southern carriers can come in with a network. Ultimately, we need to develop strategies that will effectively link the Northern carriers' network with the southern carriers' networks and the Northern carriers really need to stay strong in the Northern markets because they bring a lot in terms of jobs and Northern economic development."

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