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A Westjet flight takes off at the Vancouver airport. (Jeff Vinnick for The Globe and Mail)
A Westjet flight takes off at the Vancouver airport. (Jeff Vinnick for The Globe and Mail)

WestJet, Emirates sign co-operation pact Add to ...

Emirates airline has signed a pact with WestJet Airlines Ltd. , making it simpler for passengers to connect to the Dubai-based carrier’s flights.

On Thursday, Emirates said its new “interline” agreement paves the way for consumers departing on a WestJet flight for Toronto to more easily catch Emirates at Pearson International Airport. Bags will be transferred for Dubai-bound travellers making such bookings.

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The deal comes a year after Emirates lost a bid to expand on its own in Canada because of Ottawa’s refusal to grant new landing rights. Transport Canada has defended the federal policy to restrict Emirates, arguing that there is sufficient passenger seat capacity already between the United Arab Emirates and Canada.

“Emirates’ partnership with WestJet will allow travellers to explore our vast network of diverse and remarkable destinations with added ease and seamless connections,” Emirates Canadian manager Don McWilliam said in a statement.

Emirates, owned by the Dubai government, and Calgary-based WestJet are independent carriers that don’t belong to an airline alliance. Air Canada and Germany’s Lufthansa are part of the Star Alliance, which competes against Emirates for transatlantic traffic.

Emirates and the UAE feuded last year with Air Canada and Ottawa over the Dubai airline’s quest to gain more access to Canada. The foreign carrier operates three round-trips a week between Toronto and Dubai, but wants to boost its Pearson schedule to a minimum of daily service, as well as target Calgary and Vancouver in the long term as it expands in North America. Earlier this week, Emirates said it plans to start daily service to Dubai from Dallas in February and from Seattle in March.

WestJet and Emirates said their commercial deal means that consumers will be able to make reservations more easily by calling their travel agent or securing a single booking through Emirates instead of separate itineraries.

“The new arrangement makes global travel more accessible for outbound passengers who can now connect to the Emirates network via WestJet, travelling to Dubai and beyond to any of the 114 destinations that Emirates flies,” the carriers said.

Consumers can also book through Emirates for flights from Dubai to connect to WestJet’s Canadian network.

WestJet noted that passengers will need to take the train at Pearson between its Terminal 3 and Emirates at Terminal 1.

WestJet’s other interline pacts include those from the Oneworld alliance (British Airways, Qantas, Japan Airlines and Dragonair), SkyTeam (Air France, Delta Air Lines, China Airlines, China Eastern, Alitalia and Korean Air) and independent carrier El Al Israel.

The Calgary carrier has forged even closer partnerships through “code-sharing” deals with two Oneworld members, American Airlines and Cathay Pacific, and as of this week, SkyTeam’s KLM.

Ottawa refused demands by Emirates and Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways for new landing rights at Pearson last October. The UAE responded by ousting Canadian soldiers in November from Camp Mirage, a staging base near Dubai that had been used for nine years to supply the Afghanistan war.

Last December, the UAE imposed visa fees of up to $1,000 on Canadian visitors, further escalating tensions between Canada and the Arab country.

Air Canada and Lufthansa are seeking to protect their Frankfurt hub, complaining that Emirates is unfairly siphoning off lucrative international traffic by funnelling passengers through Dubai and transferring them to destinations such as India and China.

 
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