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Expanded Canada-UAE Air Transportation Agreement Offers New Routes

An Air Canada 787-9 departing (Photo: Air Canada)

A recent expansion of the air transport agreement between Canada and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has led to several route announcements from carriers from both countries. The announcements cover new routes as well as increased frequencies on existing routes.

Air Transport Agreement

Air transport agreements are formal treaties between governments that allow for commercial air service between two jurisdictions. The foundation for these agreements was set out in the 1944 Chicago Convention, which established the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and set out agreed rules around issues such as airspace, safety and aircraft registration.

These agreements generally include language governing various aspects of commercial aviation between the signatories. For example, they usually have language outlining procedures for cooperation on matters of security and provisions for mutual recognition of licenses and certificates.

Other parts of the agreements deal with matters such as taxation, tariffs and settlement of disputes. Typically, a route schedule is included in the annex of an air transport agreement.

Negotiations for the UAE-Canada air transport agreement were first concluded in 1999. That agreement permitted each country to allow its airlines to operate six flights per week in each direction as of June 1, 2003.  The agreement was expanded in 2018, increasing the cap to 14 weekly flights in each direction.

The 2018 expansion also included a capacity restriction but allowed each government to allocate 68 per cent more capacity among its carriers than before. On April 5, the governments of Canada and the UAE announced that the agreement had once been expanded. Each country’s airlines can now operate 21 flights in each direction, and the capacity limit has been removed.

Increased Frequencies and New Routes

Prior to the announcement of the expanded agreement, Canada had been using half of its allocated frequencies with Air Canada’s daily service between Toronto’s Pearson International Airport and Dubai, UAE’s International Airport. Since 2007, Emirates has also flown between Dubai’s International Airport and Toronto’s Pearson International Airport, with five weekly flights prior to the announcement.

Etihad Airways flies six times per week between Abu Dhabi International Airport and Toronto’s Pearson International Airport. While the UAE airlines were only using 11 of the country’s 14 weekly frequencies, they had effectively maxed out their capacity allocation due to the agreement’s capacity limit.

Three days after the announcement of the expanded agreement, Emirates announced that it would be increasing the frequency of its Dubai–Toronto service to one flight daily as of April 20, up from the previous five flights per week. Shortly afterwards, Etihad also announced that it would add an additional weekly flight on its Abu Dhabi–Toronto route to make it a daily service as well. Etihad’s frequency increase is scheduled to start on May 30.

On April 13, Air Canada announced a new route between Vancouver International Airport and Dubai International Airport. The new service is scheduled to be operated four times weekly by the carrier’s Boeing 787-9 aircraft starting on October 28.

Although a formal announcement has not been made yet, Milesopedia and MTLURB have reported that Emirates will be launching a new route between Dubai International Airport and Montréal’s Trudeau International Airport starting on July 5.

The service will reportedly be operated by Boeing 777s, and its launch would mean that the UAE would be using all its allocated frequencies under the air transport agreement.

Andrew Chen


  • Andrew Chen

    Andrew is a lifelong lover of aviation and travel. He has flown all over the world and is fascinated by the workings of the air travel industry. As a private pilot and glider pilot who has worked with airlines, airports and other industry stakeholders, he is always excited to share his passion for aviation with others. In addition to being a writer, he also hosts Flying Smarter, an educational travel podcast that explores the complex world of air travel to help listeners become better-informed and savvier travelers.

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