Iqaluit Airport

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Iqaluit Airport
WMO: 71909
Airport type Public
Owner/Operator Government of Nunavut[1]
Location Iqaluit, Nunavut
Hub for
Time zone EST (UTC−05:00)
 • Summer (DST) EDT (UTC−04:00)
Elevation AMSL 110 ft / 34 m
Coordinates 63°45′24″N 068°33′22″W / 63.75667°N 68.55611°W / 63.75667; -68.55611Coordinates: 63°45′24″N 068°33′22″W / 63.75667°N 68.55611°W / 63.75667; -68.55611
CYFB is located in Nunavut
Direction Length Surface
ft m
16/34 8,605 2,623 Asphalt
Statistics (2011/2010)
Passengers 120,040
Aircraft movements 20,178

Iqaluit Airport (IATA: YFBICAO: CYFB) serves Iqaluit, Nunavut, Canada and is located adjacent to the town. It is operated by the government of Nunavut. It hosts scheduled passenger service from Ottawa, Montreal, Rankin Inlet and Kuujjuaq on carriers such as First Air and Canadian North, and from smaller communities throughout eastern Nunavut. It is also used as a forward operating base by the CF-18 Hornet. In 2011, the terminal handled more than 120,000 passengers.[5]

The airport is classified as an airport of entry by Nav Canada and is staffed by the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA). CBSA officers at this airport can handle general aviation aircraft only, with no more than 15 passengers.[2]

The airport serves as a diversion airport on Polar routes.[6][7]


Military use[edit]

Iqaluit Airport was founded as Frobisher Bay Air Base in 1942 by the United States Air Force. Throughout the 1940s and 1950s the base was used by the United States and Canada for transportation purposes. The base was closed in 1963 and converted into a civilian airport.

Civilian use[edit]

Since the 1950s, Frobisher Bay had earned a reputation as a technical stop for airlines flying the North Atlantic. Crews departing westward from Prestwick or Shannon in those years preferred to route via Iceland (or the Azores) to Gander, thence to New York City or elsewhere. Weather, however, could dictate a northerly course, which is when Frobisher Bay came into its own. At one time, Pan American even had a base there and on at least two occasions had to change engines on Douglas DC-7Cs at Frobisher Bay.

With the introduction of the intercontinental Boeing 707 and Douglas DC-8, fewer airlines stopped at Iqaluit. Even so, there always seemed to be some activity. The place remained prominent as a regional airport, continued in its strategic role of sustaining the Distant Early Warning Line (DEW), supported the occasional military exercise or scientific expedition, and was still a key stopover on the North Atlantic ferry route.

Through the 1960s, Nordair was the main airline serving Frobisher Bay from Montreal, 1,100 nautical miles (2,000 km; 1,300 mi) to the south. Douglas DC-4s operated into the 1970s and Lockheed Super Constellations between 1964 and 1969. In 1968 Nordair introduced the Boeing 737-200 on the Frobisher Bay run. At the same time, Bradley Air Services had been expanding. By the 1970s, the company's fleet of de Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otters and Douglas DC-3s was serving many small Arctic communities from YFB, carrying passengers, mail, groceries, and other essentials. Bradley became known as First Air in 1973 and soon added BAe 748s.

In the 1980s, Canada's airline industry was in transition, with Air Canada and Canadian Airlines rapidly buying up regional operators. Air Canada acquired Nordair in 1977, and then sold it in 1984 to Canadian Airlines. Jet service to Iqaluit Airport continued, but under the Canadian North banner, which was, after the buyout of Canadian Airlines by Air Canada, to continue operations as an independent airline, jointly owned by the Inuit of the Northwest Territories and Nunavut. Between 1985 and 1988 First Air added four Boeing 727s to link Montreal and Ottawa with Iqaluit. Meanwhile, Canadian Airlines failed, and was taken over by Air Canada in 2000. In 1995 First Air purchased the small Yellowknife-based carrier Ptarmigan Airways; then, in 1997, Northwest Territorial Airways (NWT Air), Air Canada's Yellowknife subsidiary. In the NWT Air move First Air acquired two 737-200 Combis and a Lockheed 382 Hercules.[8]


  • 2 hangar/cargo terminals (First Air/Canadian North)
  • 1 two-storey terminal building
  • 1 main runway
  • three aprons
  • 1 FBO (Frobisher Bay Touchdown Services)

Iqaluit International Airport Fire Department operates one crash tender for local fire suppression and has support from Iqaluit Fire Department when needed.


The main terminal has:

  • Check-in desks
  • 3 gates
  • 1 baggage claim belt
  • Gift shop
  • Travel agent
  • Tourist help desk
  • Car rental
  • Taxi service/rank
  • Baby/parent room
  • Disabled access/facilities

There are 30 short term parking spaces at the airport.

Future development[edit]

As a result of increased traffic, Nunavut government is planning an overhaul of the airport which is expected to cost between $250 and $300 million. The project will be a public–private partnership with the GN borrowing their half of the cost. The, as yet unnamed, construction company will also operate the airport for 30 years. Upgrades will include:

  • new 100,000 square feet (9,000 square metres) terminal building
  • retrofitting the current terminal which will become solely an administration building and control tower
  • expanding parking lots
  • new combined services building to house all airport and safety vehicles
  • a second taxiway
  • apron and repaving the runway.

The construction was expected to begin in 2014 and be completed by 2017.[9][10]

Other information[edit]

Several flights have been diverted to Iqaluit Airport due to passenger medical emergencies. On 5 October 2015, a passenger on board a flight from Moscow to Los Angeles suffered a heart attack, necessitating an emergency landing in Iqaluit. [11] On 31 May 1996, Virgin Atlantic flight 7 from London to Los Angeles made an emergency landing at Iqaluit after a passenger had a heart attack. The landing was executed safely - the first Boeing 747 ever to attempt to land at Iqaluit - but one of the 747's engines hit a fuel pump on the tarmac as it was taxiing, causing serious damage to the aircraft and a potentially dangerous fuel spill. The 397 stranded passengers, including singer Gary Barlow, were flown out after Virgin Atlantic chartered two jets. The passengers, after spending 16 hours in a local curling rink, were taken to New York to catch connecting flights to Los Angeles. Prince Michael of Kent, who had also been on the flight, was given a Royal Canadian Mounted Police escort and departed on an earlier scheduled flight. The original aircraft had its engines repaired and left four days after the accident. The heart-attack victim survived.[12]

There is a persistent but false rumour that Iqaluit Airport is one of the emergency landing sites for NASA's Space Shuttle, due to the length of its runway and its geographic location.[13] This can easily be disproved by noting that Iqaluit's runway is less than 9,000 ft (2,743 m) long.

Airbus A380 at Iqaluit

The Airbus A380, the world's largest passenger jet, conducted cold weather testing from Iqaluit Airport during February 2006 - its first North American visit. They were hoping to experience −25 °C (−13 °F) weather to determine the effects on cabin temperatures and engine performance. Nunavut authorities hope that the importance of these tests will put Iqaluit on the map as a centre for cold-weather testing.[14] In February 2013, Airbus Military used the airport to test the Airbus A400M Atlas military transport aircraft that is currently being developed.[15] The city government sent a delegation to Paris Airshow in June 2013 to promote Iqaluit as an ideal location for these tests. Airbus A350 followed suit and conducted its cold weather testing in January 2014. Airport staff cited low landing fee, sufficient runway length, and minimal air traffic movement all helped in the decision making.[16]

In December 2005 the Government of Nunavut announced that it would spend $40 million to repair the runway, build a new emergency services facility and a new terminal.[17]

In January 2012 Air Greenland announced that a 1-hour, 45-minute flight from Nuuk to Iqaluit, down from three days when going via Copenhagen or Reykjavik and then on to Ottawa, would begin 18 June 2012, later changed to 15 June. The service was a partnership with First Air who provided ticketing and other services in Iqaluit. This was the first international flight into Iqaluit since 2001 when First Air discontinued its Iqaluit to Kangerlussuaq flights. Air Greenland used Dash 8 aircraft on the run.[18][19][20][21] After three years in place the service was discontinued for the 2015 season.[22]

Airlines and destinations[edit]

Airlines Destinations
Air Nunavut Charter: Arctic Bay, Cape Dorset, Clyde River, Hall Beach, Igloolik, Mary River, Montreal-Trudeau, Nuuk, Ottawa, Pangnirtung, Pond Inlet, Qikiqtarjuaq, Rankin Inlet, Resolute, Yellowknife
Canadian North Cape Dorset, Clyde River, Hall Beach, Igloolik, Ottawa, Pangnirtung, Pond Inlet, Qikiqtarjuaq, Rankin Inlet, Yellowknife[23]
Exploits Valley Air Services Gander, Happy Valley-Goose Bay[24]
First Air Arctic Bay, Cape Dorset, Chesterfield Inlet, Clyde River, Coral Harbour, Hall Beach, Igloolik, Kimmirut, Kuujjuaq, Montréal-Trudeau, Ottawa, Pangnirtung, Pond Inlet, Qikiqtarjuaq, Rankin Inlet, Resolute
FlySarvaq Ottawa (Begins May 6, 2016), Halifax (Begins May 6, 2016)
Nolinor Aviation Charter: Kitchener-Waterloo, Mary River

Accidents and incidents[edit]

  • On 14 August 1996, a Canadian Forces CF-18 Hornet left the runway during takeoff, slid down an embankment and ruptured a fuel pipeline. The aircraft caught fire, as did fuel spilling from the pipeline, however the pilot had ejected just as the plane left the runway and suffered a broken ankle. The pipeline was shut down and the fire brought under control in less than an hour.[26]
  • Over the years several flights have been diverted to Iqaluit due to on-board medical emergencies with no deaths being reported.


  1. ^ Airport Divestiture Status Report
  2. ^ a b Canada Flight Supplement. Effective 0901Z 24 July 2014 to 0901Z 18 September 2014
  3. ^ Synoptic/Metstat Station Information
  4. ^ Total aircraft movements by class of operation — NAV CANADA flight service stations
  5. ^ [1]
  6. ^ Boeing-conducted Airport safety and operational assessments
  7. ^ New Cross-Polar Routes
  8. ^ Airways (June 2006) Pages 24-28 YFB and First Air
  9. ^ "Iqaluit airport to be overhauled by 2017". CBC. 2012-07-06. 
  10. ^ "New public-private Iqaluit airport to cost up to $300 million". Nunatsiaq News. 2012-07-06. 
  11. ^ "Moscow to L.A. flight makes emergency landing in Iqaluit". CBC. 2015-10-05. Retrieved 2015-10-06. 
  12. ^ Unexpected Arctic stop for Brits, Yanks
  13. ^ List of Space Shuttle emergency landing sites at
  14. ^ "Jumbo Airbus getting cold, and more, during Iqaluit tests". CBC. 2006-02-10. Retrieved 2010-04-12. 
  15. ^ Airbus Military A400M undergoes latest cold weather tests
  16. ^ "Airbus's new A350 in Iqaluit for cold weather testing". CBC News. 2014-01-27. 
  17. ^ Nunatsiaq News
  18. ^ "Air Greenland teams with First Air for Iqaluit flights". 8 June 2012. 
  19. ^ "Air Greenland opens summer-route to Canada". Air Greenland. 18 January 2012. 
  20. ^ Iqaluit-Nuuk service ready for June 15 take-off
  21. ^ Tireless lobbying led to Iqaluit-Greenland air link revival
  22. ^ "Air Greenland cuts Nuuk-Iqaluit scheduled flights in 2015". CBC News. 6 March 2015. 
  23. ^ Flight Schedule and Route Map.
  24. ^ "N.L. airline offers Iqaluit-Gander flights". CBC News. 24 May 2011. 
  25. ^ "CF-OOV Accident description". Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved 26 August 2010. 
  26. ^ Pilot ejects in nick of time as CF-18 crashes while attempting to take off.

External links[edit]