Several Canadian Carriers have resumed flights to Yellowknife as the Government of the Northwestern Territories has lifted the evacuation order.
Airlines Respond to Yellowknife Evacuation Orders
The GNWT gave an evacuation order on the 16th of August. The wildfires are marked as the most destructive in Canadian History, having destroyed 16,757,658 hectares of land- about 5% of Canada’s forestland.
Around 29,500 residents of the Northwestern Territories were ordered to leave immediately. In the wake of these evacuations, Air Canada was criticized for allegedly price-jacking flights from the affected area. In light of this, the flag carrier introduced a cap on prices for departures from Yellowknife and announced increased flights toward the town to keep up with demand for evacuations.
Canadian North canceled commercial flights to the town to prioritize aircraft for evacuation flights. Customers were offered the chance to rebook later at no extra cost. The Carrier’s evacuation flights began on Monday, the 14th, and continued throughout August. Likewise, Air North canceled all non-emergency services to the town to properly allocate resources where necessary. The Carrier also confirmed allowing residents with no ID to travel in this emergency.
Carrier Air Tindi operated medevac services toward the town and pivoted regular scheduled operations to support evacuations from the area further. The Carrier also called for donations to Edmonton airport, which had become a hub for carriers intending to deliver evacuations and urgent care to residents.
Flights resume toward the Northwestern Territories.
The GNWT declared that residents could begin returning home on the 6th of September and that residents who required a flight home could pre-register.
In light of this announcement, WestJet resumed flights the same day. Air Tindi began returning residents to their homes on the 8th of September. Air North has also announced that flights to the town will resume today, on the 9th of September.
Canadian North will resume flights on the 10th of September and noted that special accommodations – for residents with no identity papers or residents with pets, will be in place until the end of September. Canadian North’s VP of Flight Relations, Aaron Speer, strongly focused on these accommodations, reiterating the importance of community that pets bring.
“Navigating the challenges of the wildfires has been a community effort, and as we resume our scheduled services, our primary focus remains on the safety and well-being of our residents…We recognize that pets are an integral part of many families, so we’re taking steps to ensure they’re included in the return process as well.”