Aviation News

Air Canada to suspend Doha route indefinitely

Air Canada will suspend its Doha route indefinitely. The carrier will operate its last outbound flight to Doha, Qatar on 29th January 2023.

Doha suspension

As of next month, Air Canada will stop flying between Toronto Pearson International Airport and Doha’s Hamad International Airport. The last outbound flight to Doha will be on 29th January 2023 while the last inbound flight to Toronto will take off from Doha on 31st January 2023. This marks the end of nonstop flights between Toronto and Qatar as this was the sole nonstop flight operating between the Canadian city and the Middle Eastern country.

With this, Air Canada will now fly only to two destinations in the Middle East – Dubai in the United Arab Emirates and Tel Aviv in Israel.

Air Canada in a statement said that the route is being suspended indefinitely and the decision has been made due to “commercial reasons”. It seems that the route was not performing well at all from the very beginning.

Air Canada has operated this route with a Boeing B787 Dreamliners. The route initially launched with 3-weekly frequency. Then, it was increased to 4-weekly and presently, the route is again operated 3-times-a-week.

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This is understandable

When Air Canada announced flights to Doha in October 2020, many were surprised, with this being no surprise. 😉 Air Canada signed a codeshare partnership with Qatar Airways to offer connectivity beyond Doha to its passengers. Mainly, the airline targeted connecting passengers to India, Africa and the rest of Asia.

While there was a codeshare agreement between Air Canada and Qatar Airways, that was not updated regularly. There was no frequent flyer cooperation also.

Air Canada recently signed a codeshare agreement with Emirates, with the partnership now active. This is a much more detailed and lucrative partnership, something which any airline will be aiming for when it partners with another airline. The Air Canada-Emirates partnership includes a codeshare agreement, reciprocal frequent flyer benefits including mileage earnings.

Now you may think that since Air Canada may be prioritising its partnership with Emirates over the one with Qatar Airways, the Canadian flag carrier will simply add additional flights to Dubai to expand its offering in the Middle East. However, that can’t be possible. Why? Because there are caps on how many flights can operate between Canada and both UAE & Qatar.

If there are is such a cap in place, then Qatar Airways also just can’t enter the to-be-vacant Doha-Toronto route. It will have to continue with just a single daily flight to Montréal, Quebec.

Another reason why Air Canada will prefer its partnership with Emirates is because the latter also flies to Toronto. There’s a direct doubling (more than doubling as the route is operated by Emirates’ A380s) in number of seats available on the route, which means that more passengers can take advantage of the partnership and more passengers can connect beyond Dubai on codeshare flights operated by Emirates. While Qatar Airways also flies to Montréal, Quebec, it does not fly to Toronto. So somewhere or the other, I suspect there was not that expected-connection between Air Canada and Qatar Airways in their partnership. I may be wrong here but it seems like it.

Any new route in pipeline?

With Doha suspension, Air Canada might be possibly looking at launching another route, perhaps the highly-requested route to Bengaluru, India or elsewhere in Asia. It’s just an assumption but it may well be in the works. We will have to wait for an official announcement from the airline if it is truly in the works.

Featured image by Twitter/CSMIA

What do you think of Air Canada suspending flights to Doha, Qatar? Let me know in the comments section below.

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