Commentary on the Recent UAE – Canada Dispute
It’s a sad situation, the failure of recent negotiations between Dubai and Canada which resulted in the UAE imposing Visa fees on visiting Canadians and Canada losing its free rent and landing rights at Camp Mirage, an important logistics and supply point for Canada’s 2,750 troops in Afghanistan. What did the consumer get out of all this? Canada’s troops now get to stopover in Pakistan, a hot bed of terrorism and suicide bombers and Canadian tourists to the UAE have to pay Visa fees of up to $1000, unless you fly on Air Emirates or Ethiad Airlines.
Last year I had the pleasure of visiting the UAE, without the high Visa cost, flying on the Emirates Airline. That’s my interest here. If I had had the choice (which I didn’t), I would not have flown on our national airline, Air Canada, and if I had to do it all over again, I’d still fly on Air Emirates. The planes are new, the seats were wide and comfortable, the service was great and the airline stewardesses looked like super models.
The UAE, Canada’s largest trading partner in the Middle East and home to about 27,000 Canadian ex-pats merely wants to expand into the Canadian market. Emirates Airlines and Ethiad Airways fly six times a week into Canada. They want more flights into Canada. However, Air Canada which doesn’t even fly directly to Dubai claims that Emirates airlines take Canadians onto third countries with a stopover in Dubai. True enough. I met some people on the plane that were stopping over in Dubai and then heading on to India. Since my holiday in the UAE, I’ve been telling all of my Indian friends to take Air Emirates and enjoy a stopover Dubai because it’s so… fabulous.
Air Canada complains there are no reciprocal benefits to Canadian carriers. Yes, so? Since when is this the official position in government negotiations with any other international airline carrier? Does Air Canada have to benefit from any airline which picks up travelers and takes them first to one destination and then onto to another? I’m not an economist, but something seems strange here. What about free competition? Air Canada fears the loss of business if the UAE was to be allowed more access. Air Canada has been losing business because in the world of free market competition, many other airlines can offer cheaper flights and better service. I can’t remember the last time I used Air Canada. When I fly to the U.S., I fly out of a U.S. city on a U.S. airline because, well, it’s cheaper and the high airport taxes charged in Canada on the flight cost are often times more than the flight itself. All my friends and family do the same thing as well.
Of course, in this diplomatic dispute, the consumer is always the one who will pay the piper. “We’ve got a situation where somehow diplomatic matters for Canada are being linked to the interest of Canada’s major airline,” said association The Consumers’ Associate of Canada president Bruce Cran. Cran said the argument that Air Canada would lose a significant number of passengers if the two U.A.E. airlines were allowed into the country more frequently is moot.
“We’re talking about a destination to which Air Canada does not even fly (directly),” said Cran, adding that there was no reason for Canadian consumers to be forced to give preference to Air Canada’s Star Alliance carriers, which operate competing routes through Europe. Even members of our government have expressed their serious concerns about potential damage to our largest trading partner in the Middle East, trade worth some $1.5 billion a year. So now we have to pay for a Visa to visit the U.A.E. Gee, thanks, Canada. Way to go.
Photo: by WorkingShirt of the Airport in Dubai. Beautiful!