Airmail service is over, as Canada Post switches to the ferry

  • Sep. 17, 2008 2:00 p.m.

By Heather Ramsay–Islanders have been left without airmail service since Monday, after Air Canada terminated a contract with Canada Post. Ottawa-based Canada Post spokesperson John Caines said this situation is not unique to Haida Gwaii. “We are no longer using Air Canada anywhere in the country,” he said. Canada Post was given 120-day notice that Air Canada wanted to terminate the $35-million contract. Mr. Caines said the airline offered a couple of options for renewal, but these would have increased the cost to the nation’s mail carrier by $15 million a year. “We didn’t think that was a good business option,” he said. Mr. Caines said Canada Post has made arrangements with other carriers to deliver US and international mail and it has set up its own network in Canada. He said the company has bought DC-10s to carry mail between major centres. “So now we do it on our own schedule.” He also said service could improve, since those planes will be flying on Canada Post’s schedule, not an airlines. As far as regular mail goes, Mr. Caines said nothing has changed, since even First Class letters have been ferried to Prince Rupert and then trucked to Vancouver for years. But he does say the premium services will be affected, likely being slowed by a day, and he had no information about any new air arrangements to cover priority post and other premium Canada Post services for the islands. Meanwhile customers at the post office in Queen Charlotte were told on Monday that letters or packages, even those sent by Xpress Post, would wait until the Thursday ferry to be shipped off. The mail would then travel by truck to Prince George before being sorted by priority and presumably then, some would be sent on by airmail. Joni Fraser in Sandspit is frustrated by the change in service. “This means we get half the service that other communities get. Do we get our stamps at half price for half the service?” she said. The Observer phoned Air Canada for comment and spokesperson Angela Mah said, “We don’t comment on commercial relations.” She suggested we talk with Canada Post.