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Etihad reaffirms bid to secure more Canada flights

CEO James Hogan says frequency would increase if access was eased.
Etihad, NEWS, Aviation

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Etihad CEO James Hogan has reaffirmed the airline's desire to increase its flights to Canada in a speech to businessmen in Toronto.

Hogan made his comments in an address to the Toronto Board of Trade when he told them that services to Canada would increase if if regulatory access was eased.

"There are 384 weekly long and ultra long haul flights into Toronto every week. Etihad flies just three of them - less than one per cent. Etihad is a friend to Canada and we want to be a connector to Canada," Hogan said.

Hogan compared Canada with Etihad's successful partnerships with American Airlines and Virgin Australia in other markets, and expressed a willingness "to work with local carriers to grow the market".

His comments come as relations between the oil-rich UAE and Canada have deteriorated rapidly since November, when Canada’s transport agency refused to give Gulf carriers Etihad and Emirates fresh landing rights. The Gulf state retaliated with the closure of Camp Mirage, a military base located outside Dubai and used to supply Canadian troops in Afghanistan.

The diplomatic spat took a new turn in December, when the UAE Embassy announced Canadian citizens would no longer receive free visas and tourists would be required to pay up to $1,000 Canadian dollars to enter the country. In February, Ontario’s Finance Minister Dwight Duncan said he would not be happy with Dubai becoming the largest single shareholder in the country’s exchange if a proposed $6.7bn merger between the London Stock Exchange and Canada's TMX went ahead.

Earlier this month, Qatar Airways said it will press for daily flights to four cities in Canada in a bid to muscle in on national carrier Air Canada’s long-haul market.

“I think [Canada] is currently underserved, a lot of passengers are going through the USA because there are not enough airlines [offering] international flights out of Canada unless you want to go by Air Canada,” CEO Akbar Al Baker told Arabian Business. “We already have rights to fly to four cities in Canada but with only three frequencies a week so quite normally we would like at least a daily frequency to all of these four destinations.”

The Doha-based airline will launch its first route to Montreal on June 29.

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