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Mon 6 Dec 2010 09:02 AM

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Lufthansa encouraging Canada to block Emirates expansion, claims Flanagan

The Dubai-based carrier said Canada is being “egged on” by the German carrier to restrict Gulf access to the Canadian market

Lufthansa encouraging Canada to block Emirates expansion, claims Flanagan
STRONG REBUTTAL: Emirates Airline executive vice president Maurice Flanagan. (ITP Images)

Germany’s Lufthansa, Europe’s largest airline, is encouraging Canadian authorities to block Emirates Airline’s bid to expand the number of flights it operates to Canada, the vice chairman of the Dubai-based carrier told Arabian Business.

“They are targeting Emirates, being egged on by Lufthansa… It is purely the protection of Air Canada,” Maurice Flanagan, vice chairman of Emirates Airline, told Arabian Business of Canadian authorities refusal to allow the Dubai-based carrier to increase the number of flights it operates to Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver.

“We have perfect open skies to the United States, we can fly anywhere we wish with any capacity and any frequency so we go to New York, San Francisco, Los Angles they are all non-stop. Canada we are restricted to three flights a week [which is] absolutely ridiculous when the market is there for double daily Toronto, double daily Vancouver, and double daily Calgary. The market is there,” Flanagan added.

The breakdown of talks between the two governments in October has resulted in the deterioration of diplomatic relations between the two countries, with the UAE recently increasing visa restrictions for Canadian visitors.

While Canada has said the current number of flights are enough to service the market between the two countries, Flanagan disagreed: “They know it’s simply not true, there are 26,000 Canadians working here, enormous trade between just Dubai, not just the UAE, that’s ten times as much with Switzerland but they’ve given Switzerland open skies, all in protection of Air Canada.”

Canadians travelling to the Middle East currently have to transit through major European airports, such as Frankfurt, which is the main hub for Germany’s Lufthansa. Lufthansa and Air Canada are linked through their membership of the Star Alliance airline association.

“(Air Canada) would rather its passengers be diverted through hubs in Europe to access these destinations; no matter how inconvenient, costly or time-consuming… Why should Canadian consumers be dictated to by the narrow interests of Air Canada’s and its fellow Star Alliance member Lufthansa?” Emirates said in a press brochure issued last month.

Looking to the future, Flanagan believes the issue is no longer just about landing right and is now a bigger diplomatic issue: “It is heavily political now; we are almost out of the picture.”

GCC airlines, such as Etihad, Dubai’s Emirates and Qatar Airways have recently been criticised by European airlines, which say government subsidies and access to cheap financing have allowed Gulf carriers to expand rapidly.

Emirates overtook Lufthansa last year as the biggest carrier on international flights, following a sixfold increase in traffic since 2000, when it ranked 24th.

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Jebel Ali Baba 9 years ago

So it's not about Germany but about Star Alliance! The European carriers have joined alliances to compete on the american market many years ago and now the new grown up airlines as Emirates or Etihad are complaining?

Nada 9 years ago

I'm a Canadian living in Dubai, and I will fly Emirates and only Emiartes! Even if it means having to fly direct to NYC and taking a flight from NYC to Ottawa..

25 years in Dubai 9 years ago

I do the same! I fly to Germany on Emirates and connect. All these airlines are so envy of Emirates they will try anything. Reminds me of the problems Virgin had because of BA.

Brian 9 years ago

Nada your not Canadian, you might be a passport holder yes but not real Canadian :)

Expatwriter 9 years ago

If this is true then I don't see why Emirates cant just accept the fact that Canada, rightly so, has taken steps to protect it's national airline's interest...personally I don't see anything wrong with that.

As a point of note its worth highlighting that Air Astana (the national airline of Kazakhstan) has recently had to switch its UAE flights from DXB to AUH...why? Because FlyDubai was not able to gain permission to fly to Kazakhstan....a case of the UAE protecting it's national interests (which incidentally is perfectly understandable).

Christina 9 years ago

No they are not complaining. Simply asking for the right to compete.

Josh 9 years ago

You think this is fair competition by blocking open skies? If Air Canada are good enough for their fellow country men then what do they have to fear? Business competition has proven over and over again to improve services and offer more attractive pricing for consumers. Let the customer decide.

John Harte 9 years ago

Canada has the right to protect its national airline and its alliance, although if Air Canada wanted to fly to Dubai then the UAE would be perfectly right in imposing its own restrictions. I don't see why Emirates thinks it has some sort of automatic right to fly to Canada when it wants and as many times as it wants,

Zara 9 years ago



I think UAE carriers should have the right to operate more flights to Canada. I rather have non-stop flight from UAE to Vancouver. Then have to do various transfers and layovers - which means check and delays.

When I flew home last summer I flew to Abu Dhabi took the non-stop to NYC and then switch airports - took Air Canada to Ottawa and total cost including the taxi was cheaper then flights from Jeddah to Ottawa through Star Alliance partners.

And to top that off because of them I now have to go through visa hassle for occasional trips to UAE. The companies need to grow up !

Norman 9 years ago

Brian, shame on you for stating that Nada is not being a "real Canadian". How can you be sure, the spelling? Better look at what you yourself wrote as you used a possessive, "your' and not the necessary contraction, "you're" as well as the lack of an article.

So enlighten the readers and inform us on what is a 'real Canadian".