Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large
Etihad Airways and Emirates Airline will soon be flying more frequently to Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris.
Etihad Airways and Emirates Airline will soon be flying more frequently to Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris.

More French flights for UAE carriers

France has given the green light to Emirates Airline and Etihad Airways to increase flights to Paris and other French cities.

France has given the green light to Emirates Airline and Etihad Airways to increase flights to Paris and other French cities by more than 60 per cent, despite lobbying efforts from Air France to block the expansion.

The UAE airlines' allotments, under the UAE-France bilateral air agreement concluded on Thursday, has risen to 60 weekly flights, up from the previous 35 flights a week. They represent an important victory for the UAE's General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA), which is also waging long-running campaigns to sign similar agreements in Germany and Canada despite opposition from those countries' flag carriers.

The new agreement gives the UAE airlines additional weekly frequencies into Paris, and also more weekly flights to provincial airports such as Lyon, Marseille, Bordeaux, Nice and Toulouse.

The UAE airlines and Qatar Airways have invested billions of dollars in new aircraft to carry out rapid international expansions in recent years.

Their growth threatens to divert lucrative international traffic from airlines such as Lufthansa, Air Canada and Air France. In response, Pierre-Henri Gourgeon, the chief executive of Air France, has called on his government for protection. "Europe is at the crossroads of international air travel, and this is a role we need to value and defend," Mr Gourgeon said in October. "We need a strategy that gives us a chance to resist."

Saif Mohammed al Suwaidi, the director general of the GCAA, said he was pleased the negotiations were successful amid the charged political environment.

"People had been expecting, due to the statements from Air France last year, that this round of consultation would fail, because the French government would adopt the point of view of Air France," he said. "But the French government made us an offer and we accepted it."

The new landing rights will gradually be increased between now and 2014, Mr al Suwaidi said.

Andrew Parker, the senior vice president of international affairs at Emirates, said the new air connections should help the French economy.

"Despite Air France's vigorous defence about not wanting more competition, and its well stated views on Gulf carriers, the French Government's position was more about finding common ground and promoting growth. It is in France's national interest to boost aviation, tourism and traffic," Mr Parker said.

France is a major ally and trading partner of the UAE, supplying Airbus planes to airlines and Dassault fighter jets to the Air Force. As a sign of the strong ties, France in 2009 opened a military base in Abu Dhabi, and in December, the UAE was reported to have resumed negotiations with Dassault to buy 60 Rafale fighter jets in a proposed multibillion-euro deal.

The GCAA is pursuing more than two dozen bilateral negotiations this year with foreign governments to pave the way for further expansions of UAE airlines, Mr al Suwaidi said, including with India and Pakistan.

The rise of the UAE as a global air hub is reshaping the global aviation landscape, including the long-held dominance of Germany's Lufthansa. Emirates has supplanted the German carrier for the title of world's largest international airline by capacity.

The Berlin mayor Harald Wolf said this month that although his city government would welcome international flights from Emirates as a way to stimulate trade, tourism and investment, these plans were being stymied by lobbying efforts from Lufthansa. "The difficulty is the federal government. They are very restrictive," he said. "They have had a very strong lobbying from Lufthansa not to strengthen Emirates."

In Canada, Etihad and Emirates are allowed only six weekly flights, and the failure to receive more frequencies despite five years of talks has spurred a fully fledged diplomatic crisis between the UAE and Canada. "They [Canada] should decide how to get along with us on this very sensitive issue," said Mr al Suwaidi.


EDITOR'S PICK - Investors shaken by protests in Egypt

Twitter: Follow the latest breaking business tweets

Back to the top

More articles

Editor's Picks

 The Greens, villas: Q1 no change. 3BR - Dh210-250,000. 4BR - Dh210-260,000. 5BR - Dh220-300,000. Q1 2013-Q1 2014 5% rise. Pawan Singh / The National

In pictures: Where Dubai rents have risen and fallen, Q1 2014

Find out how rental prices in the prime locations in Dubai have altered during the first three months of the year and the current rates you will pay according to data provided by Asteco.

 Above, the private pool of Ocean Heights' five-bedroom penthouse flat. Courtesy Christie’s International Real Estate

In pictures: Penthouse flat is height of Dubai luxury living

A five-bedroom penthouse in Ocean Heights in Dubai Marina is on sale for Dh25 million and comes with a private pool and an unparalleled view of Dubai.

 The cooling towers of the Temelin nuclear power plant near the Tyn nad Vltavou in Czech Republic. The country wants to continue expanding nuclear energy capacity despite cancelling a tender to build two new units. David W Cerny / Reuters

In pictures: Best business images for the week to April 17, 2014

Here are some of the best business images for the week to April 17, 2014.

 A sign points the way to an outdoor market popular with German visitors on the Polish side of the German-Polish border. Sean Gallup / Getty Images

In pictures: A decade since the European Union went east

May 1 will mark 10 years since the European Union expanded east, taking in countries like Poland, the Czech Republic and the Baltic states as new members. And though the border region between Germany and Poland is flourishing with trade and cultural exchange, the open border has also brought a sharp rise in crime.

 The Wind, Energy, Technology and Environment Exhibition takes place from April 14 to April 16. Above, the Dewa showroom during last year’s Wetex. Jaime Puebla / The National

April corporate and economic calendar for the UAE and overseas

From Cityscape to Wetex to stock-market holidays to nations reporting first-quarter GDP figures, here is our helpful calendar of April's business events in the UAE and internationally.

 Get the latest information on credit cards, bank accounts and loan products in the UAE. Mark Lennihan / AP Photo

Rates report: Latest on UAE loans, accounts and credit cards

Souqamal.com brings you the latest interest rates on banking products in the UAE.


To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National