While the two carriers currently have interline agreements in place for passenger and cargo services, Etihad Airways and Air Canada intend to offer customers through-checked bags, reciprocal codeshare services and frequent flyer benefits.
The MoU provides for reciprocal codeshare services to Etihad’s Abu Dhabi hub and select points in North America served by Air Canada via its Toronto hub. The two parties have commenced discussions to finalize details with the objective of introducing codeshare services in the third quarter 2013.
The agreement will also allow frequent flyer mileage accrual on codeshare flights by members of Etihad Guest and Aeroplan programs and reciprocal premium lounge access at Toronto and Abu Dhabi airports for eligible passengers of both airlines.
This announcement follows the recent decision by the Governments of the UAE and Canada to restore the previous visa regime which means Canadian nationals can once again obtain a free visa on arrival in the UAE.
James Hogan, Etihad Airways’ President and Chief Executive Officer, said: “This is without doubt a significant development in the relationship between Etihad Airways and Air Canada and very much supports the aim to simplify travel between the United Arab Emirates and Canada.
“The benefits contained within the agreement give Etihad Airways and Air Canada passengers far greater choice, flexibility and convenience and will greatly enhance business and leisure travel between the UAE and Canada and feed passengers onto each other’s flight networks.”
The UAE is Canada’s largest merchandise export market in the Middle East region and more than 40,000 Canadians reside in the UAE. Furthermore approximately 150 Canadian companies are based in the UAE.
Calin Rovinescu, Air Canada’s President and Chief Executive Officer, said: “We are pleased to establish a mutually beneficial commercial cooperation that will provide our customers with more travel options and frequent flyer benefits. We look forward to introducing Air Canada codeshare service on Etihad Airways’ flights to Abu Dhabi, via Toronto and London Heathrow, and welcoming their customers on Air Canada in the near future.”
Subject to regulatory approval, Etihad Airways will place its EY code on Air Canada flights between Toronto and select North American points.
In return, Air Canada will place its AC code on Etihad Airways’ non-stop services between Toronto and Abu Dhabi, as well as Etihad Airways’ flights between London Heathrow and Abu Dhabi.
Etihad Airways and Air Canada will also work together to enhance cargo services into and out of Abu Dhabi and Toronto, and beyond on each other’s networks.