ABU DHABI, April 24 (Reuters) - Fast-growing United Arab Emirates carrier Etihad Airways said it would partner with Air Canada in a new codeshare agreement, days after the two countries put aside disagreements and eased visa rules.
The United Arab Emirates reinstated a visa waiver for Canadian citizens in April which it withdrew amid a dispute over landing rights more than two years ago.
Canada was one of more than 30 countries, mostly Western, that benefited from a visa waiver the UAE offered to their citizens. But Canadians were told in November 2010 they had to obtain a visa in advance at a cost of as much as $1,000.
Etihad and Dubai carrier Emirates had been lobbying the Canadian government to boost thrice-weekly direct flights to Toronto and more Canadian destinations, with support from the UAE government, but failed to gain greater access.
“On the back of UAE normalising the visa rules with Canada, (the codeshare agreement) gives us the opportunity to sell beyond Toronto to the other Canadian cities,” Etihad’s chief executive James Hogan said.
There has been no indication on whether renewed cooperation between the two countries would lead to more landing rights.
“We’ve always been very clear that we want to go there daily,” said Hogan.
The codeshare is part of a series of partnerships for Etihad, as it pursues ambitious global expansion plans.
It sealed a $379 million deal for a 24 percent stake in India’s Jet Airways on Wednesday.
Etihad and Air Canada will offer customers through-checked bags, reciprocal codeshare services and frequent flyer benefits, the airlines said in a statement, adding that the codeshare services would be introduced in the third quarter.