Serving Canada’s Northwest Territories: A Brief Guide To Yellowknife Airport


Located far in the Canadian Northwest Territories, Yellowknife Airport (YZF) is a critical link for transportation and connectivity across a primarily desolate region. Despite its remote location and the city’s relatively small size, the airport handles upwards of 500,000 passengers annually, connecting many travelers to destinations further north in the Canadian Arctic.

Ten different carriers provide service to the airport, which is a surprisingly large number considering the region it serves. Thirty-six different passenger routes are flown by airlines serving YZF alongside nine cargo destinations operated by combined charter/freight operator Buffalo Airways.

A brief history

First built in 1944, Yellowknife Airport was initially made by Canadian Pacific Airlines to serve as a center of operations before the facility was sold to the Canadian Department of Transport in 1946. A terminal building and a control tower were added in 1963 and 1972, respectively, and renovations were completed as recently as 2006.

In the past few months, the airport made the headlines due to the Canadian wildfires this past summer, when the city of Yellowknife was evacuated. During this time, the airport served as a critical port of exit for refugees, with flag carrier Air Canada adding extra services from YZF.

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A hub for Canadian North

Many may be unfamiliar with the small regional airline that is Canadian North, but the carrier provides crucial connectivity across the nation’s arctic and subarctic regions. Founded 34 years ago and first taking to the skies in 1998, the airline serves 27 destinations with a fleet of 33 different turboprop and jet aircraft. In addition to Yellowknife, the carrier also operates a hub at Iqaluit.

From Yellowknife, the carrier provides service to 14 different destinations across the country, including a variety of small, remote airports within the Northwest Territories and Nunavut. These destinations are Cambridge Bay, Edmonton, Fort Simpson, Gjoa Haven, Hay River, Inuvik, Iqaluit, Kugaaruk, Kugluktuk, Norman Wells, Ottawa, Rankin Inlet and Taloyoak.

The carrier maintains a unique fleet, consisting of some older aircraft one wouldn’t usually see most commercial airlines operating. Specifically, Canadian North operates 1 Boeing 737-200 combi aircraft alongside 13 Boeing 737 Classic jets. In addition, the carrier flies 4 Boeing 737 Next Generation aircraft plus 15 ATR 42 and 72 turboprops.

Other commercial operators

Both small and large carriers operate at Yellowknife, in addition to Canadian North, to ensure connections to cities all across the nation. Unsurprisingly, the nation’s flag carrier operates at the airport in addition to fellow major carrier WestJet.

From YZF, Air Canada Express flies directly to both Edmonton and Vancouver, with new services commencing at Toronto-Pearson International Airport (YYZ) in December. WestJet flies to Calgary, while the carrier’s regional subsidiary, WestJet Encore, provides connections to Edmonton.

In addition, Air North services three seasonal destinations: Ottawa, Toronto-Pearson, and Whitehorse. Air Tindi operates to five remote destinations in the Canadian northwest, and Northwestern Air solely flies a route to Fort Smith. A small carrier, North-Wright Airways, operates turboprop flights to five destinations near Yellowknife in the Northwest Territories.

Source : Simple Flying