Let Emirates In

A new entrant entered Canada’s skies on Monday as Emirates Airlines began non-stop service between Toronto and Dubai, with onward connections available to Asia and Australia. They’re starting out with three flights a week, but hope to eventually offer daily flights out of Toronto.

They’ve also expressed an interest in eventually starting service to Calgary and Vancouver.

But that won’t happen if Air Canada and the union representing its pilots have their way. Canada’s largest airline has been openly lobbying the federal government to say “no” to Emirates, arguing that the Dubai-based carrier’s plans would do further harm to an already struggling Air Canada.

There’s nothing surprising about that. Air Canada has as much right to present its case as Emirates president Tim Clark has to present his. In fact, Clark did so earlier today at a luncheon in Ottawa.

However, the comments by Air Canada Pilots’ Association president Capt. Andy Wilson do go a bit over the top.

“This is about stealing international traffic that isn’t going to Dubai at all,” he told the Globe and Mail. His comments refer to the fact that Emirates gets much of its business from travelers passing through Dubai on their way to someplace else.

Stealing? Really?

Was it not Air Canada itself — or maybe just its then-CEO Robert Milton — that proposed in 2002 to loosen the rules of international air travel so that Air Canada could fly Americans from Los Angeles to New Zealand non-stop, and American Airlines could fly Canadians from Toronto to London non-stop?

And is KLM stealing from Air Canada by allowing passengers to fly from Canada to Norway, Germany or Italy via its Amsterdam hub?

After all, many of KLM’s passengers aren’t really going to the Netherlands at all. Otherwise, why would Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport provide connecting passengers with a casino and art museum to visit, and even places to bathe or get a massage between flights?

Of course KLM isn’t stealing. Neither is Singapore Airlines, another airline that profits handsomely from the fact that many of its passengers are not going to Singapore at all, but are continuing on elsewhere.

It’s all fine and good to allow both Air Canada and Emirates to provide the facts in this matter. The Air Canada pilots should also stick to the facts in presenting their case, and avoid the over-the-top rhetoric.

In the absence of any compelling reason to stop them, Emirates should be allowed to offer seven-day-a-week service at Toronto, and to fly into Vancouver and Calgary as well.

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About theviewfromseven
A lone wolf and a bit of a contrarian who sometimes has something to share.

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