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Background on Canada and Dubai

Background on Canada and Dubai

Emirates started its service to Canada on 29th October 2007, operating three weekly non-stop flights from Dubai to Toronto and vice versa, the maximum number of weekly flights it can operate under the current Air Transport Agreement between Canada and the UAE. Those flights have been operating at near capacity, consistently averaging over 90% seat occupancy. We would like to invest further in Canada, by moving to a daily service between Toronto and Dubai and going forward operate to other points in Canada.

The outdated restrictions on flights between Canada and Dubai, which are almost unique anywhere in the world where Emirates operates, have resulted in incredible unmet demand for direct passenger and cargo services. To help meet some of that unmet demand, Emirates launched the double-decker A380 on the Toronto-Dubai route on 1st June 2009, demonstrating its strong commitment to the Canadian market. This is the first A380 service to Canada and makes Toronto one of only two cities in the Americas with an A380 service.

Dubai - A Strong and Growing Export Market

In 2008, the UAE was the largest merchandise export market for Canada in the Middle East and North Africa Region.

  • Canadian exports to the UAE reached CAD 1.5 billion in 2008, a year over year increase of 29% and are expected to continue growing robustly.
  • The emirate of Dubai alone accounted for approximately 79% of Canadian exports to the UAE in 2008.
  • There are over 130 Canadian companies currently active in Dubai.
  • Passenger and cargo traffic between Canada and the UAE – and Dubai in particular – is growing rapidly.
  • Canada and the UAE recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Trade and Investment, a recognition of the tremendous potential for growth in commerce between Canada and the UAE.

Unfortunately, Canada’s trade relationship with the UAE is constrained by the lack of flights between the two countries. While the Canadian government promotes ‘open skies’ type agreements, many of its own have been concluded with countries which are less valuable export markets for Canada.

Consider Canada’s trading relationship with the countries with which ‘open skies’ type agreements have been reached since November 2006, compared with UAE/Dubai:

CountryCanadian exports in 2008 (in millions CAD)Total trade in 2008 (in millions CAD)
New Zealand459937
Dominican Republic214344
Costa Rica108485
South Korea3,8369,844
United Arab Emirates1,4631,793
*Not including the rest of the UAE.

As the table demonstrates, Dubai alone is a significantly larger export market for Canada than most of the other listed countries, with the exception of South Korea.

Canada did recently sign a new ‘open skies’ agreement with the European Union, but it remains to be seen if any carriers will take advantage of this opportunity to offer additional or increased flights. In contrast, Emirates remains ready, willing and able to increase flights immediately.

A New Tourism Source Market for Canada

Canada’s tourism industry is suffering, with inbound traffic from traditional markets showing substantial decreases. For example, according to the Canadian Tourism Commission, in February 2009 trips to Canada from Asia were down over 15 per cent on a year over year basis. Provincial governments and tourism operators are desperately seeking to open new source markets, including the UAE.

UAE tourists are some of the most sought after in the world, spending on average CAD 10,000 per person, per week when on vacation. The average vacation stay for an Emirati in the USA is one month, though many will stay for up to eight weeks.

All that potential exists for Canada, but is being lost because of existing flight restrictions. As outlined in the table below, other countries have opened their doors to increased Emirates services and the economic and tourism benefits that follow.

CountryEmirates Weekly Flights (Summer 2010)Flight Restrictions*
United Kingdom98Unrestricted
South Africa3556
New Zealand28Unrestricted
United States35Unrestricted
* The maximum number of Emirates weekly flights allowed under existing air services agreements between the UAE and the country in question.

Emirates’ Request & Canada’s Opportunity

The strong commercial, tourism and economic potential of Emirates for Canada cannot be fully realised without an enhancement to Emirates’ flight frequency entitlements under the Air Transport Agreement between Canada and the UAE. At a minimum, Emirates is seeking the right to operate at least daily flights between Dubai and Toronto. Going forward, Emirates recognises the strong potential for additional services to other Canadian cities such as Calgary and Vancouver - as well as a second daily service to Toronto. Dubai has become a global economic player, providing a wide range of opportunities for Canadian businesses. Increased Emirates service between Canada and Dubai would further promote trade, investment, tourism and employment, generating substantial economic and social benefits to Canada and its citizens.

There is overwhelming support for increased Emirates service from provincial governments, municipalities, airports, tourism stakeholders and business associations.

Emirates has already invested heavily in Canada – and we would like to increase that investment substantially at no cost and with no risk to the Federal Government, but at benefit to Canadian travellers and exporters – and in the overall Canadian national interest.