Dubai: Air Canada will oppose any moves by Canada’s new Liberal government to grant more flights to Emirates and Etihad Airways, a senior Air Canada executive told Gulf News on Thursday, a day after the airline started flights to Dubai.
“There is enough capacity … between the two markets,” Duncan Bureau, Vice President of Global Sales at Air Canada said in an interview.
The number flights between the UAE and Canada has long been a disdain for Emirates and Etihad, who want more access beyond the three weekly flights they are each allowed to operate to Toronto.
Canada’s October 19 election that saw the Justin Trudeau-led Liberal party voted into government has raised hopes the two countries will be able renegotiate the allocation. UAE General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) Director General, Saif Mohammad Al Suwaidi, told Gulf News on October 22 that he plans to discuss “the requirements of our carriers” with the new government.
But Bureau said Air Canada will “absolutely” make sure Canada’s new government knows it opposes any more flights for the UAE carriers. “The capacity that is currently being deployed is more than adequate to service the true demand,” he said.
Tensions over the flights broiled over in 2010 with Canada losing its military base in the UAE and visa restrictions being imposed on Canadians. The diplomatic spat was widely perceived to have ended in 2013 when the two countries’ Foreign Ministers met in Abu Dhabi and the visa restrictions were lifted.
Air Canada started three weekly flights to Dubai on Wednesday with the airline flying a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner to Dubai International for the first time ever. Brunei flag carrier Royal Brunei has flown the smaller 787-8 to Dubai since 2013.
Bureau said the airline expects to make return on invested capital “north of 15 per cent” on the Toronto-Dubai route.
Air Canada is hopeful 20 to 30 per cent of passengers on the route will be from hub traffic feeding from cities across Canada and second tier American cities like Cleveland, Pittsburgh and Denver. The UAE is home to an estimated 40,000 Canadians.