“Ten years ago they were the enemy.”
Air Canada CEO Michael Rousseau offered up that less-than-flattering description of Emirates this week at the Future Travel Experience Global conference in Las Vegas. But a lot can change in ten years, especially in the aviation world.
Now, rather than a rivalry, Air Canada and Emirates have a burgeoning partnership. And it is all about India.
Rousseau continued. “They have incredible access in India. It is one of the areas we want to grow into. India is a key market for us to access. Emirates allows us to access that market through Emirates rather than doing it ourselves.”
Which is not to say Air Canada will completely pull out of the Indian market. It expects to continue flying its own aircraft nonstop between major markets in both countries. But traffic to secondary cities is now much more likely to pass through Dubai than other connection points.
Read more: Air Canada, Emirates link up with codeshare, loyalty reciprocity
The current bilateral air services agreement between the two countries limits each to just six weekly flights. The UAE airlines had previously lobbied for increased access to the Canadian market, to no avail. Rousseau expects that the deal, which still requires regulatory approval, would also see Emirates gain more access into Canada, now that the two are partners rather than enemies.
Despite the new agreement, however, Air Canada does not anticipate increasing its own metal capacity into Dubai. Rousseau sees “a fairly strong” market to Dubai from Canada, but not enough to increase its current service levels. But the carrier “will look at additional flights as time goes on.”
United Airlines is expected to announce a similar partnership with Emirates next week. Whether United also sees India as a driving force is less clear, though it would not be surprising.
And, while Emirates used to have a codeshare partnership with JetBlue, that will end as the United partnership launches. Among other things, this means that JetBlue will unceremoniously lose access to sell the Emirates flights to US Government travelers through the GSA’s City Pairs Program.
More news from Future Travel Experience Global 2022
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- JSX details Starlink aircraft activation plans
- Is Allegiant ready to add inflight WiFi?
- Alaska Airlines going digital to slash bag check-in time
- Allegiant flips its digital marketing focus
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