A few notes:
Air Canada used to serve the North via NWTAir which it wholly owned as one of its "connectors" just like it had AirBC, AirOntario, AirAlliance, and AirNova. In 1997 it sold NWT air off to First Air and shortly thereafter combined all others into Air Canada Regional, which as you all know eventually became Jazz. First Air retained codesharing on certain routes (the old NWTAir routes) with Air Canada until 2001.
Canadian North was also a wholly-owned connector of Canadian Airlines International - just like Canadian Regional. It sold off the airline to the NorTerra group around 1998 thereby becoming a Northern-owned airline. CAIL (and later AC
) operated Canadian North as a wet lease until around 2002 when Canadian North got it's own operating certificate.
Neither airline codeshares with Air Canada anymore, however both accept and redeem Aeroplan, and both have joint published fares with Air Canada.
The passenger volumes just are not there for low-cost carriers to serve these routes. Apparently Westjet discussed flying YEG
-YZF a few years ago, and even had it posted on their map of potential future destinations at their call centre. The problem is many passengers connect from outlying communities which decreases the local traffic opportunities. YZF has a population of around 18,000 - when WestJet goes into a community it usually has a catchment area of 100,000 or more, which YZF does not provide. First Air and Canadian North also provide a lot of frequency on this route (too much I think) some days there are 8 or more 737s in each direction.
is about a 3-hour flight - and if you look at a map around YFB there are not a lot of alternates around. Try finding a plane that can fly a full load of passengers and bags that distance and hold a decent alternate - I don't think a CRJ will do it.
is a long flight and geographically out of the way. It would be over 4 hours to fly that route. YEG
is the closest major centre and you can easily connect out of there to YYZ
- some of the more popular onward destinations. People who live in YXY
are usually heading to YVR
and don't want to stop in YZF along the way. Air Canada serves YXY
and Air North serves YXY
A lot of freight moves on these planes - that's why you can have a 737 with 40 or passengers flying YFB-YOW
making money. I'm just not sure what will happen when the 737 and 727 combis retire. I did hear the First Air 767 rumour a while ago too, although I think I actually heard A300/310 talk. I think First Air had a 757 they were using for cargo with DHL a few years ago but I could be wrong about that, maybe it was a rumour too.
If you want to see the North use your Aeroplan points. 25,000 will get you YEG
return (which you can find for about $300), but it can also get you MIA
-YSR return (which would cost $3200 or so).