Dubai : Etihad Airways and Emirates Airline have announced that both the UAE airlines will be adding flights to and from Toronto, following an agreement to increase air traffic capacity between the UAE and Canada.
Emirates and Etihad both said they will launch two additional flights on their service to Toronto.
Emirates will add new flights from August 18 while Etihad's additional services will start from October 28.
The additional flights bring the weekly service to and from Toronto to five times a week each for Emirates and Etihad, and come after years of back and forth talks between the UAE and Canada.
Etihad said in a statement that Toronto is "one the most successful and popular destinations" on its global route network, and that the move to increase frequencies has been "eagerly anticipated."
Similarly, Emirates said passenger occupancy on the Toronto route has been "consistently full, averaging 90 per cent, with demand outstripping supply." The increased frequency will add 65 per cent capacity to the market.
UAE-based airlines have long been vying for greater capacity to Canada as well as access to different cities besides Toronto, such as Vancouver.
Restrictions in bilateral air rights over the past years have been getting in the way of that, however, and even the latest deal between the two governments is only for capacity to Toronto.
In early June, Sultan Al Mansouri, the UAE's Minister of Economy, met with Marc Garneau, the Canadian Minister of Transport, in Ottawa to discuss cooperation in the air transport field.
During the meeting, Al Mansouri said that increasing the number of direct flights between the UAE and Canada was an important requirement to grow relations between the two countries.
In a statement on August 20, the General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) said that the meeting culminated in an agreement to increase air traffic rights, allowing both Etihad and Emirates to raise frequencies to five times a week from the current three.
The agreement also stipulates an increase in cargo flights to four times a week from two, the GCAA said.
"The increasing of flights will contribute greatly to facilitate travel and support economic growth, and will provide new investment opportunities, especially in light of the economic agreements signed between the two countries recently through the joint economic committee," said Al Mansouri, who also serves as Chairman, GCAA.
As per the deal, Etihad will continue to operate a Boeing B777 on the route, including on the additional flights, while Emirates will continue deploying an Airbus A380 on the route.
Saif Al Suwaidi, Director General, GCAA, said that the latest deal is a "positive step" towards promoting air links between the UAE and Canada. He added that the deal came to meet "the urgent need for further development of air transport relations between the two countries."
The UAE is Canada's largest trade partner in the region, with trade between the two amounting to over US$1.8 billion (Dh6.6 billion) in 2017, according to figures from GCAA.