Secure your airports, airline tells Nunavut
Aircraft vandals inflict fourth attack on Canadian North
(updated April 10)
Canadian North wants the Government of Nunavut to step up security at its airports after one of its aircraft was vandalized in Pond Inlet last week – the fourth incident of its kind within the past year.
The Canadian North Dash-8 was parked overnight April 4, when someone broke the lock around the aircraft’s passenger door and caused other damage to the plane’s exterior.
It’s not clear if the vandal made it into the plane, said Canadian North president Tracy Medve.
Medve said she wasn’t aware of the full extent of the damage, which was to have been assessed after the Dash-8 was scheduled to land in Iqaluit April 6.
Medve remains more concerned about the vandalism trend at Pond Inlet’s airport and easy access to aircraft that park overnight in the community.
In Canadian North’s case, the airline parks an aircraft in Pond Inlet six nights a week.
“We’ve had other incidents in the community and that’s the problem — you can easily access the airport’s ramps,” she told Nunatsiaq News.
In 2011, Medve said someone attempted to open the cargo door of a Canadian North aircraft parked in Pond Inlet, causing what Medve describes as “serious and extensive damage.”
That incident cost the airline $250,000 for repairs and to charter another aircraft plane for scheduled passengers.
Pond Inlet’s airport then experienced two more incidents later that year.
Canadian North has also seen one its planes vandalized in Igloolik recently, Medve said.
In Pond Inlet, Medve said the airline has asked for the community’s help in dealing with the vandalism, since it’s local residents who are most affected by disruptions to flight schedules.
“And the community has been very proactive — the mayor has called a meeting next week to discuss the issue,” she said. “We’re very happy with that, but the GN must also take responsibility.”
Following the April 4 incident, police have arrested and charged 31-year-old Pond Inlet resident Ezekiel Mucktar with break and enter, mischief over $5,000 and breach of probation. Mucktar will appear in court in Iqaluit on May 8.
In the meantime, Canadian North has arranged to have its aircraft in Pond Inlet locked and guarded overnight while the airline considers its options, which could include changes to flight schedules.
But that was just what local Tununiq MLA Joe Enook was concerned about when he brought the issue up in the winter session of the Nunavut legislature.
Enook told the assembly Feb. 21 that Canadian North and First Air offer flights that depart from Pond Inlet in the morning to allow residents to get to Iqaluit in time to make connections to Ottawa and other destinations.
“The reason why this service is possible is because both airlines overnight their aircraft in Pond Inlet,” he said.
“If this [vandalism] continues, there is a risk that airlines will no longer be able to overnight their aircraft in Pond Inlet, which will cause significant disruptions to flight schedules and severely inconvenience my constituents.”
Later during the same session, Transportation Minister Peter Taptuna said the GN responded to an April 2011 vandalism incident in Pond Inlet.
The measures include better lighting on the airport’s ramps, locking the ramp’s access gate and meeting with the hamlet to discuss increased surveillance by local bylaw officers.
Taptuna said his department would also install camera security at the airport’s terminal building and ramp area sometime in 2012.
But Taptuna characterized the incidents of aircraft vandalism in Nunavut as “very low.”
“Nunavut airports do have that responsibility [to ensure security] to a certain degree,” he told the assembly March 1.
“[But] to put high security fencing and cameras in the all the communities is just not feasible. It takes a lot of money and a lot of maintenance costs.”