Northwest Territories Wildfire Update
With the evacuation of Yellowknife continuing, SPECTACULAR Northwest Territories, Air Canada, WestJet, Air North and Canadian North are all providing updates on the wildfire situation in the Northwest Territories.
On its website, SPECTACULAR Northwest Territories advised that there is currently a wide state of emergency due to the wildfire situation in the NWT.
It continued that the government of the Northwest Territories issued the following message: “Please be advised that due to the current wildfire situation in the NWT, we are asking that non-essential travel to or through the NWT be avoided at this time. Residents of communities and areas currently under evacuation order to not return home. This includes Hay River Katlodeeche First Nation Reserve, Fort Smith, Enterprise, Jean Marie River, Yellowknife, N’dilo and Dettah, and the Ingraham Trail.”
Air Canada said that is “closely monitoring the devastating events in the NWT, and increasing our Yellowknife flights to help people get to a safe region.”
The carrier noted that: “This is a complex and evolving situation, and we remain in contact with NWT government officials to provide support. We have deep roots in Yellowknife as our regional airline partner Jazz has employees who together with their families live in this community. They are working hard to assist people during this difficult time.”
Air Canada added two extra flights — doubling the normal frequencies to four – on Aug. 17 and it added that: “We have also substituted a larger 169-seat Boeing 737 for one of those flights to provide extra seat availability.”
Today, Aug. 18, the carrier has added an extra B737 flight in addition to the usual two flights, and we will continue evaluating opportunities for adjustments.
And it advised that: “At this time, there will be no flights to or from Yellowknife on Sat., Aug. 19 due to the government evacuation order. We plan to operate as the situation permits.”
On the issue of pricing, Air Canada said that “there have been postings in social media about fares being elevated. This is not correct as we proactively at the earliest possible time put in place a cap to limit fares for Air Canada’s direct flights out of Yellowknife.”
The carrier continued: “The examples on social media are aggregated fares by websites which are not in line with what we are offering on our non-stop flights from Yellowknife. For example, some involve several stops and other carriers, with some trips lasting as much as 21 hours, when a normal non-stop Yellowknife-Calgary flight is two hours. We endeavour to get these aggregated fares corrected where possible – however, customers should always ensure they are purchasing the non-stop fares directly from the aircanada.com website or from a travel agent to avoid the multi-leg routings.”
Air Canada noted that: “We also monitor the pricing on aircanada.com to ensure that the capped fares continue to display as intended. Sometimes it requires taking steps to correct fares manually when they may not display as they should due to certain technical factors. Rest assured, we get these corrected as soon as possible, and we refund passengers who inadvertently purchase a fare before it gets corrected by our team.”
The carrier advised that: “At this point, flights for the next few days are fairly full, and we continue monitoring the situation closely and will adjust our schedule as we can. We have also put in place a goodwill policy for customers to change their flights booked for travel up to Aug. 30, or to obtain a full refund.”
Go to www.aircanada.com for more.
WestJet offered an update on its operations, stating that: “In response to the mandatory evacuation order issued by The Government of The Northwest Territories, a travel advisory has been posted on WestJet.com and flexible change/cancel guidelines have been announced for all guests travelling to Yellowknife between Aug. 15 and 30, 2023.”
The carrier also noted that: “To ensure guests evacuating are able to do so affordably, WestJet has adjusted fare classes to avoid price escalation.”
WestJet added an extra recovery flight to its schedule yesterday (Aug. 17) and it has also added larger aircraft to operate previously scheduled flights between Calgary and Yellowknife on WestJet flight WS221 and WS222.
WestJet also said that “to ensure as many guests as possible can bring their pets onboard all flights departing Yellowknife today, WestJet has increased the pets in cabin limit.”
The carrier advised that: “Out of an abundance of caution for the safety of our guests and crews, we have proactively cancelled six flights at this time on Fri., Aug. 18, 2023, and Sat., Aug. 19, 2023. We are working to notify all impacted guests and encourage them to check the status of their flights before heading to the airport.”
WestJet said that: “As the situation evolves, we are working diligently to provide increased capacity from Yellowknife and will share further updates as they become available. We continue to monitor the situation closely and will make operational changes in the name of safety as necessary. All guests currently in the region are advised to follow all response instructions provided by local authorities.”
Go to www.westjet.com for more.
Air North is advising that it remains actively engaged in the current evacuation order in place for Yellowknife and the surrounding areas. Due to the order and operational demands, it will be forced to temporarily suspend our regular scheduled flights to and from Yellowknife until Tues., Aug. 22. This suspension of services may be extended if the emergency persists and public orders remain in place.
The carrier said that it will continue to work with the Canadian government the Northwest Territories government and local officials during this fluid situation to ensure its passengers stay informed of any developments along this route.
For passengers travelling to or from Yellowknife, we are offering complimentary changes and cancellations on bookings.
Go to https://www.flyairnorth.com/flights/travel-updates for more.
For information from the NWT government, go to https://www.gov.nt.ca/en/public-safety
Canadian North said that to support impacted travellers, it is offering flexible modifications and cancellations for all routes associated with Yellowknife and Hay River until Aug 28, 2023 with no additional fees.
Photo of Yellowknife courtesy of SPECTACULAR Northwest Territories