Qatar Airways Boeing 777-300ER loading up in Doha. Photo by Felix Triller
Last week Qatar and Canada inked an air transport agreement that will allow carriers from each country to serve the other. Apparently. I say apparently because there has been precious little coverage of this in the Canadian media and no official Canadian government website (at the time of writing) has any information about this.
In the wake of the protracted Canada-UAE bilateral saga, speculation was rife that Canada would give Qatar a much more generous allocation than normal. That did not happen. According to the Qatar News Agency the freshly signed agreement will allow Qatar Airways to operate three passenger flights a week as well as three cargo flights. Speculation now shifts to when and where Qatar will land on Canadian soil. There will be speculation that Calgary, Vancouver, Montreal and Toronto are all in with a shout for passenger service but the smart money – or my money at least – is on Toronto. Given its demographics, commercial strength and large foreign born population it is the easiest win.
With the destination (more than likely) settled it becomes an issue of when Canada could be added. To get the most utility out of the three frequencies, Qatar Airways would have to assign one of their biggest widebody types to the route. A quick scan of their fleet quickly narrows things down. Their A330-300′s don’t have the legs, the A340-600′s are on their way to Aerolineas Argentinas and the 777-200LR’s are fully assigned. This leaves the 777-300ERs but even they don’t appear to have much operational slack. This means that Qatar Airways would either have to cannibalize a pair of 77Ws from an existing route or wait till a couple of additional frames come online. If the latter approach is taken, this route would have to wait till early next year as they will not have enough 77W’s till then. Either way I look forward to seeing them at YYZ.
Jet Age by Same Howe Verhovek
I recently had the chance to sit down and read Jet Age by Sam Howe Verhovek (See competition rules to win a copy). The book centres on the head-to-head battle between the first two jetliners ever built – the Comet and the 707. Only a few pages in, however, I realized that the book was so much more – it provides an incredibly rich reader experience, painting a fact-filled and lively timeline of how each aircraft’s manufacturer got entangled in the then-crazy notion of creating a passenger jet plane.
Using famous aviation events as mile markers, the book cleverly introduces an array of lesser-known events and characters, including engineers, pilots, politicians, executives and tycoons, that played a part in the events that precipitated the birth of each aircraft. This spectrum of events and characters is really what gives the book its colour; each being an ideal segue to introducing a new layer of complexity and detail to this very well-researched story.
This book would be interesting for anyone whose life has not straddled the jet and pre-jet ages of commercial aviation – irrespective of their level of interest in aviation. It blankets the reader with such perspective that it forces an appreciation for how far the science of aviation has come, in relatively little time, thanks to the brilliance and drive of some of the most amazing people you’ve probably never heard of, and some you have.
To win a free copy of this book simply follow @airceo on Twitter and use the Twitter button below any post on airceo.com to tweet it. Each post you tweet will get you one entry in the draw. Tweets linking to this post will get you two draws. There is no limit to the amount of entries you can earn in the draw. Competition starts at the time this article was published and closes at 23:59 GMT on Friday the 22nd. One winner will be selected at random. Good luck!
To celebrate 60 years of Paris – Montreal service, Air France last week sent their new flagship – the Airbus A380 – to Montreal as AF346. The following infographic that I put together (while on hold, thank you very much Rogers) shares a little about the changes in equipment, route and travel time over the years. Starting on 9 May 2011, the A380 will operate this route daily. In fact you can already book those flights. Great job Air France – here’s to sixty more years!
60 years of Paris - Montreal
Emirates A380 on short finals into YYZ by BriYYZ
When it comes to the UAE-Canada Air Transport Agreement, the UAE have been playing with fire for some time, making bellicose statements threatening to close Camp Mirage. Well, it’s happened. The kill order has come down and Canadian forces are poised to exit the UAE and set up shop elsewhere.
It’s not totally clear how this impasse was reached but indications are that the Canadian side of this mess felt that the UAE’s demands were ludicrous. Some reports have them asking for fifty frequencies a week as well as the right to establish a hub in Toronto. Both of those demands – if they are in fact real – are laughable. Were those demands just a ploy, asking for twice what was hoping to be granted?
The truth of the matter is that with this eviction the positions of either side don’t even matter anymore, this has become a purely political issue, and in politics opinion is everything. While Emirates – who I believe to be the main driver behind all this – have a very well oiled PR and Marketing arm they face a huge challenge in controlling the fallout of this latest incident amongst the Canadian public. While the UAE may view the use of a military base as just a bargaining chip, over here in Toronto the value of the base is tightly associated with the hot-button topic of Canada’s combat role in Afghanistan. A mission that has seen 152 Canadians give their lives in an attempt to quell terror on both a global and regional scale. With that sacrifice in mind it’s not hard to see why Canadians are not looking upon this action favourably.
As if the eviction itself wasn’t enough the UAE then went on to take the extraordinary step of denying Canadian Defence Minister Peter McKay and Chief of Defence Staff General Walt Natynczyk rights to overfly the UAE following the completion of a brief tour to Afghanistan. Incidentally, McKay had transited via Camp Mirage on his way to Afghanistan last week. If you want to know what this has done to Canadian public opinion I suggest you surf over to the Globe and Mail’s coverage of this story. The story was published at 6:15PM and in the four and a half hours since has generated 1174 comments! What’s more is that the majority of responses are staunchly anti-UAE all of a sudden, exhibiting a degree of jingoism that I don’t often see in my compatriots – generally we prefer to blast our own government and airlines. While it’s sad to see things degenerate in this manner I feel that this demonstrates how far offside the UAE has stepped – certainly in the public’s perception. While this is front page political firebrand over here the only mention of this fracas on the Khaleej Times website was a thinly worded piece buried in the depths of the business section, yes the business section. I think this placement clearly illustrates how differently this story has resonated in the two countries.
Canada’s graduated approach to expanding air travel agreements may not have sat well with the UAE from day one but because of their most recent actions, their chances of getting what they want have gone from slim to very slim. What’s worse – for Emirates and Etihad – is that other countries may now show a bit more backbone in negotiations which would certainly make their expansion a little more difficult than they would like. As for rumours and speculation that Canada will terminate (with one year’s notice) the existing bilateral with the UAE and close Canadian airspace to UAE carriers, I don’t think that that’s going to happen because, frankly, the Canadian government has better things to worry about and maintaining the status quo is simpler than taking such an action. Let’s hope for the sake of Emirates and Etihad that I’m right because DXB-IAH/SFO/LAX and AUH-ORD without the benefit of Canadian airspace will not be a simple exercise. They might even need to park a few planes – luckily there’s some ramp space opening up at Camp Mirage.
Great circle paths: AUH-ORD and DXB-IAH/LAX/SFO
Last week I was at Blackberry Devcon 2010 in San Francisco. It was an interesting show and the city was beautiful. This was my second trip to San Fran and since I totally neglected to take pictures last time I forced myself to take some snaps this time round.
SFO is an interesting airport. Its cross-hairs style runway layout provides a lot of interesting picture opportunities (dual parallel approaches etc) and the proximity of the runways 28L and 28R to the terminal allow photographers some decent chances to snap away. Being a United fortress, pretty much ever type of UA bird in any active livery can be seen here on any given day. Whether you’re for or against the merger with Continental you really can’t argue that a coat of paint will do a lot of these birds some good.
SFO is also a key gateway into the United States and as such there was a significant presence of airlines hailing from the other side of the Pacific. As I was only there for a few hours in the early afternoon I was only able to capture the Asian carriers.
I’m still very much a beginner photographer but managed to capture some half decent shots. Enjoy the shots in full size by clicking the thumbnails above or click through to Flickr!