Air Canada argues that Beirut is currently “at the top of the list” of new destinations it is studying. No direct flights to Lebanon are permitted in North America, but European countries such as France, Germany and Great Britain allow direct flights to Lebanon.
PHOTO BRYAN DENTON, ARCHIVES THE NEW YORK TIMES
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Air Canada would like the Trudeau government to authorize a direct flight between Montreal and Beirut, Lebanon, La Presse reported .
The Canadian air carrier wishes to add a direct flight to the capital of Lebanon since 2003, but the federal government refuses to grant the necessary security clearances. Air Canada argues that Beirut is currently “at the top of the list” of new destinations it is studying. No direct flights to Lebanon are permitted in North America, but European countries such as France, Germany and Great Britain allow direct flights to Lebanon.
“Yes, it’s definitely at the top of the list [destinations to add]. There is an enormous amount of pressure from the Lebanese community, it is a market that we would like to serve, it is already served by Lufthansa, Air France, British Airways and Emirates. It’s an important market, a large community, one of the largest markets that are not currently serviced, “said Calin Rovinescu, Air Canada’s President and Chief Executive Officer, interviewed at La Presse .
The Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal (CCMM), which supports the project, has had discussions with the Trudeau government’s political staff and “hopes” for a “solution” over the next year. “The federal government is open, constructive, looking for solutions. It is hoped that over the past year the federal government will have found solutions. […] We were told that the solutions would be examined, “said Michel Leblanc, President and CEO of the Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal (CCMM).
REASONS FOR SAFETY
The Trudeau government was unwilling to state officially whether it intended to revise Lebanon’s status of direct flight. “Our government’s priority is the safety of Canadian passengers. Direct flights between Canada and Lebanon are not currently permitted for national security reasons. […] For security reasons, we are not in a position to elaborate further, “said the cabinet of federal Transport Minister Marc Garneau.
The Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal is aware that no direct flight to Lebanon is permitted in North America, but “it is noted that there are cities in Europe such as Rome, Paris and Frankfurt” that allow Direct flights.
” The security challenges can be managed, we see in these European cities. – Michel Leblanc
Discussions between Air Canada and the Montreal-based Chamber of Commerce and Industry Canada-Lebanon (CCICL) have taken place in recent months. “Obviously, we are surprised and especially disappointed that there is no direct line [because of the federal government’s decision]. […] If other European airlines that have such high demands serve this city, we can validly ask ourselves the question, “said Mohamed Badreddine, Vice-President of the CCICL and a lawyer at Fasken Martineau.
A “primordial” flight
The CCICL believes that a direct flight between Montréal and Beirut is “essential for the development of economic and commercial relations” between the two countries, not to mention the effects on tourism. “We are a huge community and in July-August, almost everyone goes back to see his family in Lebanon, it’s almost a tradition,” added Mohamed Badreddine.
The commercial potential of a Montreal-Beirut flight “seems to have been acquired,” said the Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal. “If we managed to do that, Montreal would be the only North American city that would serve Beirut, it would strengthen our status as a hub,” says Michel Leblanc. It is also part of a strategy for several years to do everything possible to stimulate the establishment of direct flights to cities where it is reliable. The Montreal-Beirut route has long been at the top of the list. Some 150,000 Lebanese live in Quebec. By way of comparison, there are 50,000 Portuguese registered in the Portuguese consulate. “
Air Canada did not wish to comment on the federal government’s decision and whether it had any recent discussions with the Trudeau government to change that decision.
In 2003, Air Canada announced a direct flight from Montreal to Beirut, but Ottawa canceled its authorization a few days before the inaugural flight in June of that year for national security reasons.
According to Statistics Canada, there were approximately 190,000 Canadians of Lebanese descent (including 70,000 in Quebec) and 81,000 Lebanese immigrants (including 38,500 in Quebec) in the 2006 census.