Gas went up in Iqaluit, and the rest of Nunavut, on the first of November. I think it’s now around $1.29 a litre. I haven’t hit the gas station since it went up and with luck can avoid it for several weeks. One of the stations in town was trying to burn off old stock and was selling it at 97 cents a litre. So I filled up. If I had the space or the gas cans, I would have been down there filling up for an hour or so.
I honestly don’t mind the price of filling up a car in Iqaluit. First of all, the price of gas is heavily subsidized up here. Secondly, I probably only fill up maybe twice a month. And during the winter that’s likely due more to having to let the car warm up than it is driving around. So it's not like I spend a fortune on gas for the car. Probably between $80-90 a month.
But I think the thing that hurts is the increase in aviation fuel. That’s going up a substantial amount and already the airlines are increasing fares. I think First Air has said prices will be going up by six per cent or so. Which might not sound like a lot, but when the average ticket from Iqaluit to Ottawa runs about $1,500, well, it’s now going to run closer to $1,600. I suspect that even with the occasional seat sale, it’s going to now be nearly impossible to buy a ticket between the two cities for less than $1,000.
And hell, that’s one of the cheaper flights. I have sympathy for people living in Igloolik, Arctic Bay and other high arctic communities. I know a woman who spent about $5,000 getting from Arctic Bay to St. John’s last year for Christmas. Throw six per cent on top of that. It might not be much once you’ve already spent the five grand, but it still adds up.
I know that the high price of gas is nothing new in Canada. Hell, things being expensive is just one of those things you have to get used to when living in the north. If you can't handle it, you won't last. But there's just something about the cost of airline tickets that gets to me. Yes, I know the gas is expensive, that their staffing costs are probably higher than almost any airline in Canada (I met a guy the summer who flies into Nunavut for three weeks to work with First Air as an engineer, and then flies home for three weeks. That can't be cheap). And there are likely all sorts of other costs that I can't think of. Oh, and Canadian North and First Air probably do more to help help local groups and charities than just about any airline I've heard of in Canada.
For example, we have a bonspiel coming up later this month which First Air will probably offer up a couple of free plane tickets. Canadian North will likely do the same thing next year. I know the Girl Guides had their cookies flown up at no charge. And the airline do this for any number of non-profit groups across Nunavut. It's good that they do that.
And hey, they feed you on the plane. Half decent food at that. None of these things are cheap.
So yeah, I understand that with gas prices going up, tickets have to go up. But at some point, when you're looking at the Visa bill with that return ticket to Ottawa on it and you see the dollar amount next to it, you can't help but go "fuuuucccck."
Thank God we already have our tickets out for Christmas booked. Theoretically the next tickets out we buy might not be until next July when we're looking at going to Italy. Although I was thinking of flying to New York in April for a few days. Now I think I’ll wait and see what the new fuel costs are.