SO COOL: Canadian North Wants To Fly To Greenland

Filed Under: Other Airlines

Canadian North, please take my money and put me in a middle seat in the back for all I care. Okay, actually, on second thought, I’d really like a window seat for this service. This might just be the coolest airline route ever, were it to happen…

Canadian North & Air Greenland to partner

Canadian North and Air Greenland have signed a letter of intent to explore partnership opportunities for air service between the Canadian Arctic and Greenland. The goal is to look at providing air service and tourism development between Canada and Greenland.

Interestingly this agreement was signed on January 27, 2020, in Ilulissat, by executives of both airlines. However, this was only revealed on December 9, 2020, due to coronavirus.

Here’s how Canadian North’s Executive Chairman describes the timing of this announcement:

“We were going to announce the LOI in March of 2020, but both of our airlines were occupied with providing safe travel throughout our customers’ journeys and preventing the spread of COVID. Now that there is a vaccine in distribution, it’s time to start looking ahead to partnering on flights.”

Here’s how Canadian North’s CEO describes the prospect of this service:

“Although we have yet to enter the planning stages of providing this connectivity, the LOI is a reflection of our common goal; to bridge the vast distances between Canada and Greenland. Inuit have traversed the Arctic since time immemorial to gather, share, and trade. Direct flights between the two countries would revitalize this relationship, strengthen cultural ties and provide economic opportunities in tourism and trade.”

Canadian North’s planned routes to Greenland

Canadian North is an Inuit-owned airline with the most service to the Canadian Arctic. The airline has an incredible route network in Northern Canada, and I’ve been wanting to fly the airline for years (it’s even an Aeroplan partner).

So, what routes is Canadian North planning from Canada to Greenland?

  • Ottawa to Iqaluit to Ilulissat
  • Ottawa to Iqaluit to Nuuk
  • Toronto to Ilulissat and/or Nuuk in the summer months during the tourist season

Just to put that on a map, here’s what that could look like:

Seriously, how cool is that?!?! The flights from Iqaluit to Nuuk and Ilulissat are just 500-600 miles. We’re talking about flight times of a bit over an hour.

This would also save a huge amount of time for anyone looking to travel to Greenland from North America. Currently the two main options to get from North America to Greenland are:

  • To first fly to Iceland, and then take a turboprop and backtrack to Greenland
  • To first fly to Copenhagen, and then take an Air Greenland A330 to Greenland

Canadian North acquiring two 737-700

Canadian North’s jet fleet currently consists of 737-200s and 737-300s. In 2021, Canadian North will be adding two 737-700 aircraft to is fleet, which will be capable of flying direct from Toronto to Ilulissat or Nuuk.

So while some may think that the announcement of exploring a partnership doesn’t amount to a whole lot, it sure sounds like Canadian North is serious about it, based on the carrier’s desire to acquire planes capable of operating the routes.

Bottom line

Canadian North and Air Greenland are planning a partnership that would include Canadian North launching several routes from Canada to Greenland. It’s amazing to think how short some of these routes could be — we’re talking just 500 miles for a flight from Iqaluit to Greenland, so that’s just over an hour in the air.

Here’s to hoping that this service actually happens.

What do you think — could we eventually see Canadian North fly to Greenland? And who is joining me on the inaugural?

(Featured image courtesy of Johnnyw3)

  1. Super cool! I would go in a second! They should do a tie-in with the upcoming movie “Greenland” with Gerard Butler, which releases on video on demand on December 18 I think. Incredible that it’s only a one hour flight!

  2. As an Ottawa-based flyer, I can tell you that the north is closed. I flew up to the Arctic recently, and I had to quarantine for 14 days before going. And I had special permission to go (not a tourist). And that was before Nunavut recorded it’s first cases of COVID-19 last month. Nunavut is under lock down, and I expect it to be xenophobic to outsiders well-after the vaccine arrives.

    If anything, I will be on the inaugural flight instead of you since Canada is closed to American tourists. Maybe if you fly to Canada from Europe on your German passport and then quarantine for 14’ll be allowed in.

    Also, the new aeroplan doesn’t allow those 7,500 flights up to the arctic like the program that just expired. These flights went up a lot in price, though probably they are still much cheaper using points that dollars. As you reported months ago, the 7,500 arctic flights were the sweet spot of the old aeroplan program. A nonstop flight that’s 3 hours long can easily cost $2000 in economy.

    Hopefully the pandemic ends and these routes will become a reality for all wanting to explore the North on miles and points.

  3. @Jason,

    No tourists or foreign nationals are allowed into Canada since March/April independently of citizenship.
    Just immediate and some extended family members of a Canadian citizen or resident are allowed to enter. Some exceptions are also being made for compassionate reasons.

  4. This is so cool — literally! I’m still waiting for service to Thule, though. An AF veteran friend of mine refers to it as the coldest, most boring place on earth. In other words, heaven for a person like me (at least during the summer months, as I do love my sunlight).

  5. @Izz:
    Its a 737-200 specially equipped with a gravel kit – if that helps.

    Alberta has implemented a reduced quarantine pilot program.

  6. @Bruno

    Yes, you are correct. My bad.


    That’s only for Calgary Airport (it doesn’t even apply to Edmonton yet), and one land-border crossing. And it only applies to Albertans. You can’t be from Ontario and try to get home via Calgary to circumvent quarantine. Also, given that Alberta has become the COVID-19 capital of Canada and run out of hospital beds after not implementing any COVID-19 restrictions like the rest of the country, I don’t see this new program being expanded to much of the rest of the country anytime soon. I know that Doug Ford talked about that program for Ontario, but I don’t see it actually happening.

  7. This has been tried before, most recently Air Greenland used a Dash-8 between Iqaluit and Nuuk for the summer seasons of 2013-2015. Firstair also did this back in the 90’s with a weekly flight if I remember correctly, and that was also cancelled due to little demand.

    The demand just wasn’t what they expected, even with a Dash-8 flying biweekly on that route. There was the expectation that Inuit from Iqaluit would go to Greenland for shopping but the lack of any real luggage allowance and the significant difference in products (everything in Greenland comes from Denmark) really curtailed that.

    I did that flight back in the day and it was really fun, a mere 90 minutes between the capitals of Nunavut and Greenland. Kudos if they manage to pull it off but there’s a history here of connecting Nunavut and Greenland that says it probably won’t hold up, at least over the long term.

  8. I was beginning to plan a trip to Greenland before Covid and the airfare from Iceland to Greenland was more expensive than I had guessed (and I had assumed it would be expensive). Hopefully this isn’t only a quicker option from NA, but also with better fares (even if it was the same, at least it would be quicker).

    @Ben, I’m curious the last time you actually had sat in back in the middle seat 🙂

  9. Firstair is insanely expensive. Basically every route is 4 digits, with almost no exceptions. Aeroplan now is useless against these flights while it used to be a well-known secret to snag those arctic flights for cheap. I doubt their flights to Greenland would be any different. I would rather fly to KEF and then spend a few days there before hopping on a 600-ish dollar flight to Greenland than paying 2000 for a flight directly through YFB.

  10. I will be joining you on the inaugural as well! One of my wife’s relatives in Denmark has spent some time working in Greenland, and the photos and stories he told me in 2018 has had it high on my list ever since.

  11. For those stating the obvious that Canada is currently closed for Americans – WE GET IT ALREADY!

    This is more about FUTURE travel not, immediate.

    Been to Iceland and loved it. Would like to visit Greenland (and also the Faroe Islands) and this routing through Toronto makes it so much easier to get there.

    Great news and I hope the routes are successful so they stay in place.

  12. Any options other than Icelandair are welcome. Its horribly short and uncomfortable overnight flights from the US East Coatst, even in business class, have made me swear to never, ever to fly them again on an overnight flight. But someone needs to provide an option for Kangerlussuaq, the departure/arrival port for many cruises, especially since climate change has been making Northwest Passage cruises more popular.

  13. There’s something wrong here. Nuuk airport can’t handle large jets. 40-seaters are the largest that can land there.

  14. Don’t see how that could be possible .Nuuk & ilulissat’s runways are too short to take a 737 with a commercially viable payload.

  15. Love that you said “take my money” lol. They have $5k of mine from cancelled flights this summer. No refund and hopefully they’ll remember they promised a credit … but was told their computer system doesn’t know how to extend credits beyond 1 year from the booking date. So fingers crossed. FYI, Nunavut still has strict requirements for who may enter, and sadly their small communities are beginning to see rising cases. Let’s hope they stay safe so we may visit in 2022.

  16. @Izz and @Klaus

    As far as I can ascertain, neither Nuuk nor Ilulissat runways are long enough for a 737 (even the gravel equipped 200) at 3117’ and 2772’ respectively. Likely a 737-700 would operate to SFJ and passengers would then board an Air Greenland Dash-8 to get to their destination. For the flights from YOW via YFB, it would likely be on a 737-400 from YOW and then transfer to an ATR42-300/500 for the Greenland leg.


    Canadian North also has 4 737-400s in its fleet. Just FYI.

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