x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Canada rejects UAE bid for more flights

The UAE has failed to convince Canadian authorities to grant its airlines more landing rights.

An Emirates A380 aircraft gets ready to land on the runway at Pearson International Airport in Toronto Canada.
An Emirates A380 aircraft gets ready to land on the runway at Pearson International Airport in Toronto Canada.
Canadian authorities have refused to grant UAE airlines more landing rights prompting concerns that bilateral relations will suffer as a result, the UAE's ambassador to Canada was quoted as saying. 

Dubai carrier Emirates has been lobbying the Canadian government to boost its thrice-weekly direct flights to Toronto and add more Canadian destinations. Etihad Airways also wants to increase flights.

But Canadian carriers worry the UAE airlines would gain traffic from connecting passengers that make routes profitable and have lobbied the government to resist. 

State news agency WAM quoted the UAE's ambassador to Canada Mohammed Abdullah al Ghafli as saying his government was disappointed by the failure of five-year talks on the issue. "The UAE is disappointed that despite intensive negotiations over the last five years the UAE and Canada have been unable to arrive at an agreement on expanding the number of flights between the two countries," Mr al Ghafli was quoted as saying.

"The UAE entered negotiations in good faith on the understanding that a solution would be reached ... The fact that this has not come about undoubtedly affects the bilateral relationship," he added. Canadian newspapers reported last week that the spat could lead to the closure of a little-known Canadian military camp called Camp Mirage which is located outside Dubai and used as a rest and supply station for Canadian troops in Afghanistan.

A UAE government spokesman declined to comment on the camp. A seven-year agreement between the two countries allows UAE carriers a limited number of flights a week to Canada, but increasing demand has made a change in terms necessary, a top official at the UAE's civil aviation authority said. "Capacity on some flights reached 98 per cent and normally agreements are adjusted upon exceeding 70 per cent occupancy," Saif Mohammed al Suwaidi, the director general of the aviation authority, told a UAE newspaper.

"We hope the Canadian side would reconsider its position and we will continue our persistent attempts to reach a compromise."