Air Canada: No More Flights For Emirates and Etihad

By: Rich Thomaselli

The Oct. 19 general election in Canada ushered in a new government when Justin Trudeau and his Liberal party was swept into office as the new Prime Minister. As is par for the course with politics, some voters were thrilled, others were not. Some businesses were thrilled, others were not.

But one of the country’s biggest businesses is on the fence pending just how Liberal Trudeau intends to be.
Air Canada says it will oppose any moves by the new government to grant more flights to Emirates Airlines and Etihad Airways.

“There is enough capacity … between the two markets,” Duncan Bureau, vice president of global sales at Air Canada told the Gulf News in an interview.

Air Canada is not the first foreign airline to be wary of the rapid expansion of Emirates, Etihad and Qatar airlines. Lufthansa has also expressed concern about the growth of the Middle East carriers and, of course, in the United State the three major carriers – American, Delta and United – have alleged that their Gulf counterparts have accepted $42 billion in government subsidies over a 14-year period.

The three U.S. carriers asked the Obama administration to review the Open Skies agreements between the United States and the United Arab Emirates and Qatar, and are seeking to re-open consultation between the governments.

Air Canada, which started new thrice-weekly service to Dubai in the UAE last month on Dreamliner 787-9 aircrafts, said the number of flights currently being operated between their two countries by the two Gulf carriers is more than enough. Emirates and Etihad have a combined three weekly flights from Dubai to Toronto.

UAE General Civil Aviation Authority Director General Saif Mohammad Al Suwaidi wants to change that and told Gulf News shortly after Canada’s Oct. 19 elections that he plans to discuss “the requirements of our carriers” with the new government.

Critics have argued that the “requirements” of the Gulf carriers are already enough, that the airlines have inflated demand for routes when there isn’t any simply to flood the market and force out U.S. carriers.
Bureau told the Gulf News “The capacity that is currently being deployed is more than adequate to service the true demand,” he said.

Bureau said he anticipates a profit on the route given the number of Canadians living in the United Arab Emirates – approximately 40,000 – and the fact that Toronto’s Pearson International can be used a hub for passengers traveling on to other parts of Canada as well as northern U.S. cities.

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