UAE turns back plane carrying Defense Minister Peter MacKay

Move follows breakdown of discussions on landing rights

The United Arab Emirates forced a plane carrying Defense Minister Peter MacKay to divert to Italy on Monday. The move is seen as an indication of new diplomatic hostility between the two nations after diplomatic talks broke down last week. Dubai has been lobbying Ottawa for years to allow the country’s two airlines, Etihad and Emirates, to land more flights in Canada. The airlines are currently allowed to land only six flights per week in Toronto. Canada has stated that more flights aren’t necessary, but the UAE maintains that more flights to Toronto, plus flights to Calgary and Vancouver, should be allowed. Air Canada also flies to the UAE, where over 27,000 Canadians currently live. Canada announced last week that it would remove its formerly-secret air base, Camp Mirage, from the country’s soil. Bilateral trade between the two nations is worth $1.5-billion annually.

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