Corrected: Canada loses access to UAE military camp

Sun Oct 10, 2010 1:22pm EDT
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(Corrects headline and paragraphs 1 and 13 to clarify that Canada losing access to camp, not that it is closing.)

By Mahmoud Habboush and Tamara Walid

DUBAI (Reuters) - Canadian forces can no longer use a United Arab Emirates military camp near Dubai from which it supported its troops in Afghanistan, a UAE source said on Sunday, in an escalation of a dispute over landing rights.

The decision comes after the UAE failed to convince Canadian authorities to allow its two major airlines to increase flights to Canada.

"Canada kept giving excuses and playing for time," said the source, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Dubai carrier Emirates has been lobbying the Canadian government to boost its thrice-weekly direct flights to Toronto and more Canadian destinations. Etihad Airways, based in Abu Dhabi, also wants to increase flights.

Canadian carriers worry the UAE airlines would steal away connecting passengers that make their routes profitable and have lobbied the government to resist.

The UAE source said the agreement allowing Canada to use the airbase had expired in June. It was extended to September at Canada's request.

"In the spirit of goodwill, the UAE went ahead and gave them the extension. The MOU has now expired and that is that."   Continued...