Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavut October 06, 2017 - 7:59 am

Canadian North airline copes with loss of ACL freight contract

"It is a blow to our operations"

Following the new agreement between First Air and the Arctic Co-operatives Ltd., the Cambridge Bay Co-op store now get its merchandise shipped via First Air instead of Canadian North. (PHOTO BY JANE GEORGE)
Following the new agreement between First Air and the Arctic Co-operatives Ltd., the Cambridge Bay Co-op store now get its merchandise shipped via First Air instead of Canadian North. (PHOTO BY JANE GEORGE)
Peter McCart, Canadian North's senior vice president, speaks to a gathering of Kitikmeot mayors in Cambridge Bay about the airline's loss of the Arctic Co-operatives Ltd. contract. (PHOTO BY JANE GEORGE)
Peter McCart, Canadian North's senior vice president, speaks to a gathering of Kitikmeot mayors in Cambridge Bay about the airline's loss of the Arctic Co-operatives Ltd. contract. (PHOTO BY JANE GEORGE)

CAMBRIDGE BAY—Canadian North’s loss of the lucrative Arctic Co-operatives Ltd. air cargo contract for the Kitikmeot and Baffin regions of Nunavut to First Air this past summer is a huge blow for the northern airline, a company executive said earlier this week.

The airline’s senior vice president, Peter McCart, recently described it as “a big change,” but that might be an understatement: the contract represented more than 900,000 kilograms of air cargo per year in the Kitikmeot region alone.

The positive is that the contract’s loss opens more space on flights for people who buy items in the South and want them shipped north quickly, McCart said Oct. 4, at a meeting of Kitikmeot mayors in Cambridge Bay.

The negative is that the loss of a major customer such as the ACL means the airline has had to reduce or cut certain routes in the Kitikmeot and Baffin regions, he said.

“It is a blow to our operations,” McCart said, although he later added that the airline is already having some success in replacing the lost cargo volumes, which could result in more flights being restored.

McCart told Nunatsiaq News that Canadian North had put in a “competitive bid” for the ACL contract’s renewal.

He and others at Canadian North were taken off-guard when they learned, only nine days before the Aug. 31 expiry date, that they had lost out to First Air the longstanding contract to bring food and merchandise north.

“We know we didn’t get the contract, but we don’t know by how much,” McCart said.

Canadian North had worked with ACL before the Nutrition North Canada program came into effect April 1, 2011.

After 2011, its cargo delivery contract with ACL enabled the airline to introduce 25 new flights, mostly in the Baffin region.

Following its acquisition of Arctic Ventures in 2012, the ACL also started to use Canadian North, instead of First Air, to supply that store in Iqaluit.

Canadian North is owned by the Inuvialuit of the Northwest Territories through the Inuvialuit Development Corp.

Canadian North’s loss of the ACL contract follows the breakdown of its codeshare agreement with First Air, which is owned by Nunavik’s Makivik Corp.

Last November, First Air announced would pull out of that agreement.

Among other consequences, the end of the codeshare deal prompted Canadian North to stop serving the North Baffin community of Clyde River.

No one from First Air was able to attend the Kitikmeot mayors meeting, although a message from First Air, read to the gathering Oct. 5, said that the mayors of the region’s five communities would each receive round-trip tickets to Edmonton via First Air “to use as they see fit for their communities.”

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(14) Comments:

#1. Posted by L''ill Bill on October 06, 2017

Really, it is competition, isn’t it. As long as they provide the service, but I really don’t see First Air improving on their service anytime soon. Interesting the last part of the article where they provided tickets to the mayors for use in their communities ” where they see fit “. I don’t see these tickets going outside the family circle. A few free flights helps to grease the wheels.

#2. Posted by Native on October 06, 2017

Is this suppose to make use feel bad for poor old Canadian North. Hey Canadian North you lost another contract take hint on why. Your cargo is slow, your staff is rude, your seats are small and uncomfortable. I remember when the cost was the thing to complain about.

#3. Posted by Frozen oranges on October 06, 2017

This airline got help to provide lower costs of food. Instead we got frozen oranges, outdated produce, dry bread….etc etc etc. If service was 100% better there would be no problems. Our produce would be weeks old by the time we get…..after a flyover the food mail has to wait a week before Canadian thinks about sending it. I’m not crying for that airline anymore. An airline that cancels flights more than ever and leaves passengers to fend for themselves in cities. Whatever Canadian North.

#4. Posted by Matt on October 06, 2017

I have flown on Canadian North. They provide very professional services. Their ground & aircraft staff were very nice people. Hopefully CN will secure other cargo contracts to offset this contract loss.

#5. Posted by Supporter on October 06, 2017

Canadian North, thought you were the best thing that happened to our community, but you have been a heart ache from the very first flight you did to our community, we should have known from the first delayed flight to cancellations and frozen fresh fruit and bread delivered only a day after the planes…

#6. Posted by Not Surprised on October 06, 2017

Is anyone really surprised at all? Half the staff up at cargo have no idea what they are doing and rarely even there, the manager has no control over his staff at all, it is a gong show on a daily basis.

Poster #1 of course those tickets will be used within the family circle thats how everything up here operates, over privileged families getting handouts when they can already afford airfare.

But back to the point Canadian North has shown its lack of service to ACL the store shelves look crappy due to lack of product being delivered on time.
Not to mention mail is always late too.

#7. Posted by Supporter B on October 06, 2017

Headline could have also been “ACL done coping with the lost freight from Canadian North”

#8. Posted by Sam on October 06, 2017

Sad,we only have 1 airline in the kivalliq,totally screwed up ,be careful what you complain about,competition is good

#9. Posted by Snowflake on the tundra on October 06, 2017

#8 Yea true. We are all prisoners to Calamity Air Cargo.

I don’t think any of these companies provide great cargo service. On the one hand they are all mostly hiring out of the same pool of incompetence. On the other, there are very real logistical challenges that come with shipping in the North.

#10. Posted by Cargo guy on October 07, 2017

Let’s not forget First Air was in fact bankrupt in 2013 and has since recovered remarkably well, despite not merging with CN. A lot has happened there! Biggest change in the past 3 years was huge cost-cutting and their new fleet, they were smart in converting ATRs into full freighters as they operate at much lower costs. First Air undercut CN’s rate. Simple business.

#11. Posted by Monopoly on October 07, 2017

I worry First Air can’t cope with all the volume but they don’t seem to care. The sole objective at First Air these days is to get CN out of business or at least out of the Baffin. They undercut pricing, then got the Canada Post contract, did it again and stole the ACL contract being the two largest cargo customers and they’re now trying to get all the medical business. Without the three, you can’t run a service. Without two of the three, it’s hard. Ever since the failed merger and failed codeshare things are sour to say the least. This is about Makivik vs. IDC and Brock vs. Steve. As customers we should benefit from that, but don’t give all your business to one dominant player! I’m annoyed ACL didn’t get that.

#12. Posted by Gjoa Haven calling on October 09, 2017

#10 - what do you mean freigters? Yes, we get the occasional extra flight freighter but it’s always full for nothern and has the frozen oranges #3 ! When I order something, it takes months. Both airlines are just as bad. I am waiting 3 months for my skidoo. Still in Yellowknife.

#13. Posted by Not Surprised on October 09, 2017

#10 yeah VP of Operations left as soon as First Air recovered, cut throat dude who was brought in to save the company and then “leaves” lol

First Air clearly stole the idea from someone as they never showed any plans to run ATR 42’s as freighters and they even got rid of the 72’s which would have been the cash cow for either full passanger flights or cargo freighters only.

But kudos to them for making a come back and offering lower priced services compared to Canadian North whos sole intetests seem to be in the south (oil sands, relief efforts etc etc).

#12 maybe if the stores weren’t always shipping up pop and chips they could move other product, plus if you listen to what the cargo agents tell you about shipping a skidoo/atv is that they are low priority as you are paying a hugely subsidised rate to ship it, if you were to pay priority on it you would see the shipping would be nearly the same as a new skidoo/atv lol

#14. Posted by 150 on October 09, 2017

Come on guys, First Air isn’t too bad. These extra freighter flights make a BIG difference

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