The Relationship between Airport Infrastructure and Flight Arrivals in Remote Northern Canadian Communities

Keywords: Canadian North, fly-in communities, airport infrastructure, air cargo, arrival reliability, food


Much of Canada’s northern population resides in communities that are inaccessible by road for a substantial portion of the year. Residents of these “fly-in” communities rely on aircraft to provide a wide range of social, economic, and transportation services. However, for numerous reasons, including the often extreme environmental conditions in the circumpolar regions of Canada, a substantial number of flights to these communities are cancelled or diverted. Using a dataset from two airlines that serve the western portion of this region with information about schedules, delays, and cancellations of more than 18 500 flights, we examined the links between airport infrastructure, flight arrival reliability, and a variety of socioeconomic variables in 23 northern communities. Results show that runway length has a significant impact on the reliability of flight arrival, but also that the reliability of flights may not affect the cost of food in the communities included in our analysis. These findings provide evidence that lengthening runways could improve air service in the Canadian North.