Emirates slams "ludicrous" Canadian restrictions

Wed Jun 3, 2009 3:31pm EDT
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OTTAWA (Reuters) - Dubai's Emirates airline slammed "ludicrous" Canadian restrictions on Wednesday that limit the largest Arab carrier to just three weekly flights to the entire country.

Transport Canada says that if the airline were allowed any more flights, it would hurt national carrier Air Canada and its international partners. Emirates currently flies only to Toronto.

"The notion that a few extra flights a week to a destination that the national carrier doesn't even choose to serve will have any type of impact on their bottom line is clearly ludicrous," said Emirates President Tim Clark, calling the limits "protectionism of the worst kind".

Clark told the Economic Club of Canada that boosting Emirates flights would increase tourism and trade at a time of economic crisis.

"Opportunities are being missed simply because the transport options are not there," said Clark, saying load factors on the three flights were around 95 percent.

He said the airline would also like to fly to Calgary and Vancouver.

Emirates drew headline on Monday when the airline's 486-seat Airbus A380 super-jumbo made its maiden scheduled flight to Toronto's Pearson International Airport from Dubai.

(Reporting by David Ljunggren; editing by Rob Wilson)