x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Emirates in deal with Canada's WestJet

Dubai's Emirates airline has linked up with Canada's second-largest carrier in a sign that cool relations between the two countries may be thawing.

In a sign that the once cool relations between the UAE and Canada may be thawing, Emirates Airline has reached an agreement with the country's second-largest carrier, WestJet, to boost travel between the regions.

The new pact will allow WestJet passengers who are travelling to Dubai to connect with Emirates' network and continue onward to any of the airline's 114 destinations.

Passengers flying from Dubai to Canada will be able to book flights with connecting services to more than 20 cities served by WestJet.

"Emirates' partnership with WestJet will allow travellers to explore our vast network of diverse and remarkable destinations with added ease and seamless connections on Canada's most celebrated airline," Don McWilliam, the manager of Canada for Emirates Airline, said last week.

The new agreement also means passenger luggage will now be transferred across the carriers' flights. Customers in the UAE will have to make only a single booking through Emirates instead of securing two separate itineraries.

Emirates flies three times a week from Toronto to Dubai, although it has been lobbying the Canadian government to grant new landing rights and expand that number of slots. The airline has run into major political hurdles and opposition, most notably from the chief executive of Air Canada, who has spoken out against Emirates' expansion plans.

The spat led to the UAE earlier this year imposing hefty visa costs on Canadian tourists that ran up to C$1,000 (Dh 3,499) for a six-month, multiple-entry permit. Canada, by comparison, was charging Dh220 (US$59.89) to Dh440 per UAE citizen at that time.

This new agreement, however, bypasses Air Canada entirely and helps Emirates Airline with its strategy of gaining a stronger foothold in North America.

Last week, the Dubai airline also said it would launch daily flight services to Seattle and Dallas.

Both of those are non-stop routes and are set to begin in February and March, respectively.

"These new services emphasise Emirates' confidence in, and long-term commitment to, the United States," said Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, the chairman and chief executive of Emirates Airline and Group.

"With six gateways offering convenient connectivity from points across the country, customers travelling to and from the US will find it easier than ever to access our vast global network," he added.

nparmar@thenational.ae