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Transport committee  Thank you for giving me the opportunity to speak with you today. Air North, Yukon’s airline, has been in business for 43 years. We are based in Whitehorse, and we currently provide gateway jet service from our Whitehorse hub to Vancouver, Kelowna, and Victoria, and regional turboprop service to Dawson City, Old Crow, and Inuvik.

December 8th, 2020Committee meeting

Joseph Sparling

Transport committee  Competition is important, but it's only one factor in keeping airfares low. Airline costs are a much larger influencer on price. In that respect, the numbers don't lie. The cost of flying a passenger on a 50%-full flight is exactly 50% more than on a 75%-full flight, so it's much more important to get capacity right.

December 8th, 2020Committee meeting

Joseph Sparling

Transport committee  To answer your first question, whether the funding is enough, we don't know where the bottom will be. However, as I have observed, with associated conditions tied to the funding, it would certainly be enough. We're comfortable that we could operate with less financial relief if we could get more people on our airplanes.

December 8th, 2020Committee meeting

Joseph Sparling

Transport committee  There's not been a lot of attraction so far, but we're working on it. It's one of those things I expressed in my remarks: the notion of market intervention is not one that first comes to mind for the government, and it's probably not one that its hearing from everybody. To me, it just makes sense, so we're going to keep on with the same message.

December 8th, 2020Committee meeting

Joseph Sparling

Transport committee  Well, in terms of airline economics, you've likely all heard people describing airlines as often running in a hub and spoke system. In a typical hub and spoke system, the cash tends to flow from the spoke to the hub. In the case of Yukon, by making Yukon our hub, when Yukoners buy their travel locally their travel dollars stay in Yukon to support the local economy, and when visitors come to Yukon, their travel dollars flow into Yukon to support the local economy.

December 8th, 2020Committee meeting

Joseph Sparling

Transport committee  Firstly, as an industry, we sympathize with Nav Canada's problems. They're just like the rest of us. They're trying to keep their expenses from getting too far ahead of their revenues. Nav Canada has proposed a 30% rate increase to airlines. As an industry, we've come back to them and said they should look at cutting costs before they look at increasing rates.

December 8th, 2020Committee meeting

Joseph Sparling

Transport committee  I'm sorry. Are you talking about the airport or the airline?

December 8th, 2020Committee meeting

Joseph Sparling

Transport committee  They reached out to us for feedback. We provided them with feedback. Whether it was before or after November 26, I can't remember.

December 8th, 2020Committee meeting

Joseph Sparling

Transport committee  Employment.... With 1,500 local Yukon shareholders, that's between 1 in 15 and 1 in 20 Yukoners who has an equity stake in the airline. Our shareholders are our customers. When we hold our annual general meeting in our hangar, we get better than 10% of our shareholders showing up.

December 8th, 2020Committee meeting

Joseph Sparling

Transport committee  I think things have changed pretty significantly since the time of the merger. It's not really for me to comment on how Canadian North and First Air feel about it. I don't know what the conditions were, really, but I would expect that a lot of them would not be very appropriate in today's environment.

December 8th, 2020Committee meeting

Joseph Sparling

Transport committee  Through the end of September, we're at just over $7 million between the Canada emergency wage subsidy and the northern essential air services relief program. The majority of it is the Canada emergency wage subsidy funding. The Yukon government, in conjunction with the federal government, has a program for essential air services in the north, which we certainly have taken advantage of and are very thankful for.

December 8th, 2020Committee meeting

Joseph Sparling

Transport committee  Thank you. Hopefully, I covered everything in the notes. I think one of the things that I tried to point out is that I learned a lot when I was researching just how many—or how few—communities in the whole country actually have scheduled air service. The fact is that the majority of them are communities of under 10,000 people.

December 8th, 2020Committee meeting

Joseph Sparling

Transport committee  Well, to the extent that rapid testing would eliminate the need for mandatory self-isolation, then it's had a major impact. As you may or may not know, anybody now coming into Yukon from outside the territory must self-isolate for two weeks. We had a travel bubble with B.C., starting in July.

December 8th, 2020Committee meeting

Joseph Sparling

Transport committee  Our cargo volumes are the one thing that has been stable as a result of the pandemic. Passenger volumes were down 95% in April. We've recovered to being down 60% or so. Cargo volumes have remained relatively stable throughout the pandemic. We're very thankful for that.

December 8th, 2020Committee meeting

Joseph Sparling

Transport committee  You spoke of international carriers. They've been hardest hit. As a country we need to do all that we can to make sure that our carriers that fly internationally are protected and are able to compete with foreign air carriers who are often funded by their governments. That means doing all that we can to drive business.

December 8th, 2020Committee meeting

Joseph Sparling