Abu Dhabi: The UAE said Tuesday it was disappointed over the Canadian government’s attempts to leak distorted information about commercial landing rights and described them as “fear tactics.”

“This deliberate leak with misinformation reminds us of the policies of fear tactics of the Neo Cons of not so distant past,” a UAE official source said.

He was commenting on Canadian media reports which claimed the UAE had turned away a plane carrying top officials with the Canadian government and military.

A Canadian military source told CTV News the UAE government on Monday closed its airspace to a plane carrying Defence Minister Peter MacKay, Veterans Affairs Minister Jean-Pierre Blackburn and Chief of the Defence Staff, Gen. Walt Natynczyk. The group was reportedly on its way from a visit to Afghanistan and bound for Europe.

The UAE official said an agreement granting the Canadian side landing rights had initially expired in June and in the spirit of goodwill it was extended on request from the Canadian government for three more months.

“Out of goodwill, the UAE granted the extension of three months, but the Canadian side did not show any similar act of goodwill towards the UAE,” the official said.

The official added: “But when it comes to free trade and economic liberalisation, Canada today is behaving like the defunct states of the Iron Curtain.”

The official added the Canadian minister’s aircraft was well aware and long in advance that the MOU on landing rights had expired.

“This information was in their possession when the minister’s craft was on the ground in Afghanistan and an alternative landing facility was agreed upon by the Canadian side with another country well before the plane took off,” the official said.

On Sunday, Mohammed Abdullah Al Ghafli, the UAE’s ambassador in Canada, said the failed negotiations concerning commercial landing rights in Canada would “undoubtedly affect” bilateral relations between the two countries.

“It is unfortunate that this process has been so protracted and frustrating,” said Al Ghafli.
The UAE has complained that its two airlines have only six flights a week to Toronto, ferrying passengers from Dubai and Abu Dhabi. And with 27,000 Canadians living in the UAE, Al Ghafli has argued there is a need for greater air service between the two countries.

Air Canada has protested expanding the landing rights of UAE carriers, arguing that few people fly from the UAE over to Canada. Air Canada claims that UAE carriers are taking Canadians to other places, while making stopovers in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.