Tuesday, March 1, 2011
Air transport liberalization between two State partners is easy to infer when their aeropolitical relations have historically been nonexistent. By offering the Gulf State an unimpressive three-flights-a-week, Canada has managed to simultaneously expand Qatar's market access rights while remaining unabashaedly protectionist. See Matthew Fisher, Qatar, Canada Do Airline Deal, Montreal Gazette, Nov. 12, 2010 (available here). Qatar will begin serving Montreal from its hub in Doha this June. See Amina Murtada, Qatar Airways Launches Three Non-Stop Services to Montreal Weekly, Feb. 27, 2011 (available here).
The restrictive accord with Qatar flatly contradicts the Canadian Government's "Blue Sky" air transport policy, a de facto replication of the U.S. Open Skies policy. Instead of "encouraging the development of new markets, new services and greater competition," see Transport Canada, Canada's Blue Sky Policy (Nov. 27, 2006) (available here), the Canadian Government has opted to limit the traffic rights of one of the world's most dynamic airlines in order to protect its flag carrier, Air Canada. This should come as no surprise. Canada continues to limit flights from Qatar's neighbor, the United Arab Emirates, despite Emirates' 90% load factors on its thrice weekly flights from Dubai to Toronto.