Canada’s airline lobby joins fight to keep ICAO HQ in Montreal

MONTREAL — The Globe and Mail

A model of an Airbus A380 is shown to delegates prior to the 35th Assembly of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) in Montreal in this file photo. (SHAUN BEST/REUTERS)

The lobby group representing Canada’s major airlines is joining the protest against Qatar’s attempts to move the world headquarters of the International Civil Aviation Organization from Montreal.

“Montreal has been an outstanding home for the global aviation community since 1946,” George Petsikas, president of the National Airlines Council of Canada, said in a news release Wednesday.

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The City of Montreal is an important international aviation hub, home not only to the permanent seat of the ICAO but also host to several related agencies, including the International Air Transport Association, Airports Council International and the International Business Aviation Council, he said.

“Our members believe that ICAO is exceptionally well served by Montreal’s aviation expertise, its world-class facilities and its proximity to the U.N. in New York,” he added. ICAO is a United Nations agency.

The Airlines Council represents the interests of Air Canada, Air Transat, Jazz Aviation LP and WestJet.

On Monday, Air Canada and WestJet said they back the federal government’s efforts to quash Qatar’s bid.

Qatar proposes to build a new, ultramodern headquarters for the ICAO in Doha, arguing that Montreal is too far from the key regions of Europe and Asia.

Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird has reportedly discussed the issue with Qatar’s Prime Minister, Hamad bin Jassem Al-Thani.

The ICAO is in negotiations for a renewal of the lease on its building in downtown Montreal, owned by the federal government.

An ICAO spokesman has said that the organization’s rules require it to consider any proposals to move the permanent seat to another location.

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