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Sat 14 Apr 2012 09:30 AM

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Qatar Airways keen to expand Canada services

Airline's CEO says Canadians deserve more flights; struggling to secure landing rights

Qatar Airways keen to expand Canada services
Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker. (AFP/Getty Images)

The CEO of Qatar Airways has said he is struggling to secure more landing rights to boost services to Canada.

Akbar Al Baker said in a speech in Montreal that Canadians deserved a better airline service to the Middle East but government restrictions were hindering progress.

“Qatar is of course interested in forging even closer ties with Canada but we are struggling with being granted additional landing rights,” he said in comments pubished by Canada's Globe and Mail.

“You Canadians deserve that. It clearly shows the need for more flights. More capacity and more frequency drive greater competition and have only positive economic impact for the benefit of both countries.”

Already, the three weekly flights launched last June are running ahead of expectations and travelling 85 percent full, he said.

He added that that Qatar's expansion efforts were not designed to undermine Air Canada, which has previously opposed any additional flights from Middle East-based rivals.

The Canadian carrier has complained that the partially state-owned Middle Eastern carriers benefit from an unfair advantage.

“Air Canada should not get worried of competition. Competition makes other airlines very strong,” Al Baker said.

Montreal is Qatar's fourth North American gateway, in addition to Houston, New York and Washington.

Last month, it was reported that relations between Canada and the UAE were back on track following a spat over airline landing rights two years ago.

Relations between the oil-rich UAE and Canada deteriorated rapidly after Canada’s transport agency refused to give Gulf carriers Etihad and Emirates new landing rights.

The Gulf state retaliated with the closure of Camp Mirage, a secret military base located outside Dubai and used to supply Canadian troops in Afghanistan.

Separately, Qatar Airways said it plans to start flights to Atlanta, Chicago, Boston and Detroit within the next year, doubling its US network.

A daily New York service will also be increased to three flights a day, with the addition of links via cities in Eastern and Western Europe, Al Baker said in comments published by Bloomberg. The airline has daily flights to Washington and Houston.

“Qatar Airways is in the midst of a very aggressive expansion plan,” Al Baker said. “The only thing that stopped us from going earlier is the delayed delivery of the 787s,” he said about the US flights.

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procan 7 years ago

Characterizing relations as back on track is a stretch to say the least. Normalizing relations are only now been explored at the bureaucratic level. As previously said before no additional landing slots for any Middle East carriers will be entertained till Air Canada receives delivery of there new long haul Boeing aircraft. One must understand this is low priority Canada at this time, and although we will at some point in 2013/2014 make a decision it may not appease all the Middle East players as example one additional slot for Etihad/Qatar/Emirates. In closing public sentiment for aggressive and out spoken Middle East airline executive is a non starter politically speaking.There is no rush here and business should be done privately behind closed doors. Lets move forward in a prudent and cautions way as friends do.

rawinder khan 7 years ago

Well said procan. I would add that the "we'll cut off your oil!" tack used in the past by some doesn't play very well in Canada either.

sheraz hussain 7 years ago

You have got to be kidding me !!!!
Well, you can continue living in lala land, while the Middle Eastern Carriers raise their game and reach new customers with a far superior product, which, the Canadians can only dream of.
Protectionism is a think of the past, wake up and start dealing with the competition !!!!

Worldnomad 7 years ago

As a Canadian who has long suffered through appalling customer service, delays, lost luggage, missed connections and frequent standby status when I have a confirmed ticket, I applaud the efforts of any airline wanting to give us a choice. Let those who want to fly Canadian do so, and those of us who appreciate a higher level of service and competitive pricing make our own decisions. Personally I wish Air Canada a quick death!

procan 7 years ago

@sheraz hussain Canada has the absolute right to keep any product and or service out of this county via protectionist regulation or any other method. As a significant world economic power we are wide awake and leading the western world in stability and economic prowess. We have no competition in the Middle East as the Middle East has no products other than oil and as Mr Khan has reminded you of we have plenty. If Canada had absolutely no contact with the Middle East no would notice or have any impact on our day to day lives.We only offer our hand in friendship.

procan 5 years ago

Well its a couple of years later Air Canada first 3 long haul aircraft have arrived with 34 more to come . Canadians have not been marching in the street demanding Middle East carriers be given additional landing rights . If any thing the chances of Qatar Airlines been permitted additional slots is remote. Human rights issues, corruption in reguards to World Cup bid , harbouring of terrorist all confirm the wisdom of Canada.s choice to exclude Qatar from an additional opportunities . I realize you will cut Canada off Oil and Gas but so be it. Let review again in to 2 years .