Thursday, June 07, 2012

Kenn Borek resumes flights to Grise Fiord in wake of fuel scare

A Kenn Borek Twin Otter is to fly into Grise Fiord June 7, quelling worries that the community has completely run out of jet A-1 fuel.

There is a shortage of jet A-1 fuel, used by Twin Otter aircraft, but the supply is enough for scheduled flights, a source who works in the community told Nunatsiaq News June 7.

“We sure were worried for a few hours though. They may still have a fuel shortage that they have to resolve but at least planes are flying again while they work on it,” the source said.

A NOTAM, or “Notice to Airmen,” posted on the website of Nav Canada on the afternoon of June 7, said jet A-1 fuel is available in Grise Fiord, but only for scheduled flights and medevacs.

Earlier that day, Kenn Borek suspended flights to Grise Fiord after seeing an earlier NOTAM that said no jet A-1 fuel was available at the community’s airport.

But Nav Canada posted another notice around 3:30 p.m. June 7, saying fuel is available for medevac and scheduled flights only.

Lorne Kusugak, Nunavut’s minister of Community and Government Services, confirmed in the legislative assembly June 7 that Grise Fiord suffers from a fuel supply problem, in response to a question from Quttiktuq MLA Ron Elliott.

Elliott said he received an email from the co-op store in Grise Fiord asking if they should be worried about getting fresh produce and milk into the community.

“The community was concerned not just with passengers going in and out of the community, but also with freight,” Elliott said.

Twin Otters are the only type of aircraft that can land at Grise Fiord’s small airstrip, he said.

Sanikiluaq and Repulse Bay have also experienced worrying fuel shortfalls as they await for new supplies to arrive by ship in the summer.

Until new tanks are constructed to increase storage capacity, communities will possibly run out of fuel, depending on usage, Elliott said, adding that the government’s biggest cost of the year is fuel.

“Usually they keep two years worth of fuel in the community,” he said.

There are also problems with water running beneath the runway in Grise Fiord and one of the capital carry-over projects was actually to resurface that runway, Elliott said.

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