Thursday May 25, 2017

Register today


Air travel

Up in the air

Air Greenland says that it has plenty of political support for its Iqaluit-Nuuk route. But what it needs in order to continue next year is a subsidy
An endangered species west of the Davis Strait

Share this article

Facebook Google Twitter Mail

iAbout Press releases

As part of our continuing efforts to bring you as much information about our region as possible we offer readers a press release service that allows private firms, public agencies, non-governmental organisations and other groups to submit relevant press releases on our website.

All press releases in this section are published in their full length and have not been edited.

If you have a press release or other announcement you would like to have published, please send it to

We reserve the right to reject press releases we deem irrelevant or inappropriate. 

All material submitted to The Arctic Journal, including pictures and videos, will be assumed to be available for publication by The Arctic Journal and its related entities.

When Air Greenland’s characteristic red and white turbo-prop departs Iqaluit on September 12, it could mark more than just a noisy farewell to a disappointing summer season.

Officials with the nationally controlled airline say that after losing money on the service in all three years it has operated the Iqaluit-Nuuk summer route they are unlikely to resume flights in 2015.

This year’s service, which began in June, was scheduled to run until September 15. The last of the twice-weekly flights left Iqaluit on August 22. Air Greenland says it has scheduled two additional Iqaluit departures, on September 8 and 12, but after that the future remains up in the air.

SEE RELATED: Inu-it’s the economy, stupid

Air Greenland had, from the start, expected that the service would take three years to establish itself. And some of the flights this year have had enough passengers for them to break even, but the airline has been far from its target of filling 70 percent of all departures.

“On the whole, the route is underperforming,” Chrisitan Keldsen, an Air Greenland spokesperson, told AG, a Greenlandic newspaper operated by this website’s parent company.

One reason for the route’s lack of business may be its small market: the two cities have a combined population of just over 20,000. Keldsen, however, said slower-than-expected development in the oil and mineral industries in Greenland had also hurt.

Air Greenland started the route in 2012 on the expectation that it would provide an alternative to the charter flights used by oil and mining firms to transport staff, but with no active mines and no oil drilling being conducted, that portion of the passenger base remains only theoretical.

SEE RELATED: Welcome to ᐃᖃᓗᐃᑦ

The route had also hoped to capitalise on cultural and familial ties between Greenland and Iqaluit, but many of those travellers may be priced out by the C$1,100 ($1,000) cost of a return ticket.

Tourism, too, was eyed as a leg that could support the service, and this year Air Greenland had struck a deal with First Air, a Canadian airline, to co-ordinate connecting flights from southern Canada and provide a rebate for passengers travelling onward to Nuuk. Price, though, still remained an issue.

Although the summer flights facilitate some types of travel, such as tourism, it is the low season for political and business travel, which Keldsen reckoned could account for some of the lack of interest.

SEE RELATED: Polar-bearish on the future

Air Greenland may have also misjudged the level of support the route had among decision-makers in Nuuk.

Unlike its domestic routes, Air Greenland’s Iqaluit-Nuuk service has not been subsidised. Keldsen said he had been led to believe that would change in 2015, but no money has been set aside for the route in next year’s national budget.

That stands in contrast to the symbolism attached to the route by the governments in Nuuk and Iqaluit. And as recently as June, Aleqa Hammond, Greenland’s premier, and Peter Taptuna, Nunavut’s elected leader, during a meeting in Nuuk, stated that maintaining a route was in their common interest.

But without such funding, it is hard do see how the service could continue next year. Air Greenland, Keldsen underscored, did not want to throw away money on an unprofitable route. It would appear that his political masters feel the same way.