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Are Gulf carriers getting too big for their boots?
Canada denies the UAE valuable landing slots while European carriers seek restrictions. It should be fine, as long as everyone acts in a mature fashion. Unfortunately, this is the Middle East.
October 11, 2010 2:30 by Samuel Potter
In typically mature fashion, the UAE has responded by closing a military camp near Dubai used by Canadian troops fighting in Afghanistan. Gulf News also reports that trade ties between the two countries look set to suffer.
With the likes of Fly Dubai expanding, and RAK Air re-commencing services, these developments are the first major set-back to the almost serene growth of the region’s airlines.
There are two ways to look at this: first, it might be that the Gulf airlines are indeed unfairly advantaged, and Canada and Europe are taking justifiable stands to protect their businesses. In which case, the governments of those countries will no doubt do their best to protect domestic companies, just as the UAE would do for Emirates or Etihad if the roles were reversed. Even if the playing field is level and Europe and Canada are less justified, governments in the GCC would do well to be as patient and as amicable as possible – the economic growth of the region is in part linked to how well connected we are to Europe, and severing ties is good for no one.
On the other hand, perhaps Europe and Canada should beware: the GCC is the economic powerhouse behind most of the MENA region. As this part of the world becomes more economically important, demand for access will soar and Europe’s carriers may find themselves shut out of the market in retaliation for their current defensive stance.
Either way one thing is for sure: Established carriers view the young GCC airlines as a major threat. We must be doing something right.
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