Monday, November 09, 2009

Air Canada comes to town

So in a shocking turn of events Air Canada announced it's going to start flying to Iqaluit starting March 2010. They're using a Bombardier CRJ-705 jet. This is something I've been wanting to happen for some time, so this should make me quite happy, right?

Oddly enough, I'm kind of underwhelmed by the news. It looks good at first blush, but when you dig a little deeper it's a disappointing launch by Air Canada.

First of all, in a very rare instance of the message boards on a news story being useful, several commentators mentioned Air Canada has been having all kinds of problems with their flights out of Yellowknife when the temperatures dip below -35C. If that's the case, Air Canada is only going to be able to run from March until November anyway. And even then they're going to have problems on some days.

Let me tell you, they're going to have a customer service nightmare up here if there are people standing up in the airport waiting for the flight to leave and being told its too cold while friends hop on a First Air and Canadian North flights and head south. I wouldn't want to be a customer service rep while that's happening.

Secondly, their flights are arriving and leaving at the Iqaluit airport at the same time as Canadian North and First Air. Yes, Air Canada is going to be taking away passengers from the other two airlines. But at peak times it's going to be madness in that airport. Three airplanes loading passengers and luggage at the same time. It can get crazy with just two planes. Three is going to be extra special fun, I can tell right now.

But the final thing that does little for me is the price. After you throw in fees and taxes the cost of the ticket will be about $1,500. With the other two airlines charging about $1,900 for a return ticket to Ottawa, it might seem like a great deal. Except, there are seat sales around that price a couple of times a year. And both the Nunavut Employees Union and the teachers' union offer up codes that give discounts that large. So it's not that hard with a bit of digging to get a ticket for around $1,500.

So if you're not saving that much money, then Air Canada isn't as big a deal. The service is going to be better on Canadian North and First Air. Plus you get a 70 pound per bag allowance with those two airlines and I'm assuming Air Canada is going to stick with their usual 50 pound limit. That's a big deal, especially when coming up from Ottawa.

I think Air Canada is going to be disappointed with the response to their coming to Iqaluit if that's the best price they have to offer. They're going to need to drop their ticket prices another $300, at least, before they're going to seriously catch the attention of people up here.

Last Five
1. Firewalker - Liz Phair
2. Carolina drama - The Racounteurs
3. Rag & bone - The White Stripes*
4. The frog prince - Keane
5. Life in the D - Brendan Benson


Alan W. Davidson said...

Wow, I thought that it cost a lot to fly from St. John's to anywhere...I hadn't thought that folks in the north would have the unique problem of it being too cold to travel.

Way Way Up said...

I was wondering when Air Canada would open a route to Iqaluit. I find it hard to believe that their arrival times correspond so closely with the other 2 airlines. It was bad enough last Christmas when I was passing through Iqaluit and both First Air and Canadian North had flights leaving within minutes of each other. I'm surprised the airport authority would allow that. If anything, maybe it will mean that expansion of the terminal will be speeded up. When I first landed in Iqaluit in 2003, the tone of the place was like a funeral. Each successive year it has just gotten more crazy. At least I only went through the place 5-6 times a year at most. I can't imagine the hell frequent flyers will have to endure with Air Canada now jumping into the fray.

BayGirl said...

Personally I've had horrible enough experiences flying Air Canada from coast to coast. I shudder to think what it would be like going to and from the Arctic with them. You are right to be skeptical.

Jackie S. Quire said...

I don't get it. How in the world is the Iqaluit airport going to manage so many aircraft at the same time.
I'd love to know if they're going to do the Rankin corridor as well. If they do they'll HAVE to pick a different time of day.
By the time I left, on Monday Wed and Friday there were at least 6 planes on the tarmac between 1130 and 130.
Unreal. How is another flight at the exact same time helpful at all?

Vancouver realtor said...

Indeed BayGirl, indeed. I've had similar experiences when flying Air Canada. Just a terrible nightmare to fly with them. I would definitely not want to deal with them up north, they're one very unreliable airline to me...

Take care, Jay

towniebastard said...

I enjoy that people show up from nowhere just to post their hatred of Air I was telling a friend of mine recently move to Canada the other day when she started complaining about the airline, "Congrats, you're a real Canadian now. You hate Air Canada."

Jason said...

So, thnk they'll be flying to Pond and Igloolik by the end of the summer?

towniebastard said...

I wouldn't think so, Jason.

Although I did have another thought...First Air and Canadian North both put severe limits on the number of Aeroplan seats on their planes. I think it's something like two per flight. That can make getting out on points a challenge.

I wonder if there will be more seats available on Air Canada to fly out on points? Because most people up here have a ton to them to use.