[Featured] August 18, 2023, 1:50 pm ET. By John Flett.
Canadian airlines and the Royal Canadian Air Force are assisting in the evacuation of residents from multiple towns in the Northwest Territories and the province’s capital city Yellowknife. Following the declaration of a state of emergency on 15 August due to uncontrollable wildfires, a number of carriers that operate in the region such as Air Canada, WestJet and Canadian North amended schedules ahead of a noon Friday 18 August evacuation deadline. The Northwest Territories government stated that ‘only residents who do not have the option to leave the area by road are asked to register for evacuation flights.’
“Flights will be running 24/7”
CBC News reported that in addition to scheduled services, 1,500 residents were airlifted on Thursday on 10 evacuation flights. A further 22 evacuation flights were scheduled for Friday offering an additional 1,800 seats. The city of Yellowknife has an estimated population of 20,000 and government officials estimated a further 5,000 residents were looking to evacuate by air. Jennifer Young, emergency management organization information officer told CBC News “We will be running flights 24/7 until we have the population that is wanting to get out on flights are able to evacuate via those flights.”
Consideration was being given on flights for ‘more than 200 residents needing extra health care and attention, such as chemotherapy patients, people in late-term pregnancies, seniors, people with disabilities and vulnerable residents.’ Prisoners and corrections officers from correctional facilities would also be evacuated on specific flights.
Air Canada issued a statement advising: “For Thursday, August 17, we added two extra flights, doubling the normal frequencies to four. We have also substituted a larger 169-seat Boeing 737 for one of those flights to provide extra seat availability. For Friday, August 18, Air Canada has also added an extra B737 flight in addition…