This spring, Canadian North airline will retire the last jet in their fleet that can land safely on Cambridge Bay's gravel runway.
For years, the community of about 1,800 has been served by a Boeing 737-200 series jet.
On April 1, 2023, the company is planning to phase out the jet and replace it with smaller turbo-prop airplanes.
Canadian North's CEO Michael Rodyniuk told CBC it is simply becoming too hard and expensive to maintain the decades-old aircraft.
"That aircraft was manufactured in the 1980s and ... useful life for an aircraft typically is 15-20 years. We've stretched this one out to 40 years," he said.
"Understandably, the community would prefer that we keep the jet on the market, and we would love to be able to do that, it's just that the world has moved on from gravel runways, and with Cambridge Bay using a gravel runway we have to use equipment that will fly in to that type of environment."
The company said it will replace the old jet with two ATR 72-500 series aircraft. A spokesperson also said the community will see "no reduction in service" and "no change in the volume of cargo or passengers from the region."
Nonetheless, Cambridge Bay MLA Pamela Gross says it will be a big change for the small Arctic community.
"Going into using the ATR will affect how many people are able to come in and out of the community and how much cargo as well can be brought back and forth," she said.
'A constant maintenance issue'
Cambridge Bay, a regional hub in western Nunavut, isn't the only community in the territory that has problems with airport infrastructure.
Glenn Priestley is the executive director of the Northern Air Transport Association, an organization that represents air carriers in Canada's North.
He says that only 11 airports in Canada's territories are paved, with only two of them in Nunavut.
"Gravel runway damage is a constant maintenance issue," Priestley said.
"It's not just the runway, though. It's also the approach lighting, it's also the infrastructure, the airport and the terminals ... is a challenge across the North."
However, modernizing runways will require major investments.
Priestley said he didn't know how much a project like paving the runway in Cambridge Bay would cost, but that similar projects tended to be "in the millions."
For Gross, finding the money to improve the runway is a priority.
She told CBC she spoke to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau about modernizing the runway when he visited Cambridge Bay last August and is organizing meetings now to talk with federal ministers about possible sources of funding for the project.
"It's going to be very hard for our community to not have jet service but I'm hopeful that we will be able to find funds from the federal government in the near future to support the need."