Santa’s reindeer are cleared to fly – but Buffalo Airways passengers are not.
On Wednesday, Buffalo Airways announced it is ‘postponing’ all passenger flights between Yellowknife and Hay River from the evening of Christmas Eve onward.
The airline is languishing in the fourth week of a suspension imposed by Transport Canada. The federal agency spent its Wednesday giving Santa Claus official clearance for take-off ahead of Christmas Day.
— Transport Canada (@Transport_gc) December 23, 2015
Transport Canada’s suspension, which took effect on November 30, prohibits Buffalo Airways from operating its own commercial flights. However, it can still pay other airlines to operate flights on its behalf.
“For the last month we’ve been operating charter aircraft – we’ve been using Tindi and Summit and they’ve been awesome. But it isn’t financially working for us right now, until we get our airplanes back,” Buffalo’s Mikey McBryan told Moose FM.
“We were hoping we could have been operating within a week, but with Transport Canada, it being the holidays and a whole bunch of other factors, it doesn’t look like we’re going to be getting our passenger service within the first few weeks of January.
“We still need a bunch more paperwork. Until that time, we’re postponing the passenger service. Hopefully we’ll be back in the New Year.”
McBryan confirmed a Yellowknifer report that the suspension has so far cost the airline upwards of $1 million.
“A million bucks doesn’t go too far in the aviation world,” said McBryan, noting the cost of chartering aircraft and employing a specialist to help resolve its differences with Transport Canada.
“It’s not a Christmas gift we wanted to give away,” he joked.
Background: Buffalo Airways suspension Q&A
The company’s message on Facebook read: “We are postponing all passenger flights starting the evening of December 24, 2015 between Yellowknife and Hay River.
“For people who have reservations or pre-purchased tickets, please call our Hay River office at (867) 874-3333. Buffalo Airways will gladly refund tickets and assist on finding other travel options for passengers. Thank you for your patience and understanding.”
When Moose FM spoke with Transport Canada late last week, we were told there was no update on Buffalo’s suspension and no timeline for reinstatement of the airline’s licence to fly.