Air Canada’s Surprising New Route To Doha, Qatar

Filed Under: Air Canada

Here’s a route I didn’t expect Air Canada to launch…

Air Canada will fly from Toronto to Doha

Air Canada will be launching 3x weekly flights between Toronto and Doha as of December 15, 2020. The flight will operate with the following schedule:

AC58 Toronto to Doha departing 8:10PM arriving 4:40PM (+1 day)
AC59 Doha to Toronto departing 8:40AM arriving 3:05PM

The 12hr30min eastbound flight will operate on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, while the 14hr25min westbound flight will operate on Mondays, Thursdays, and Saturdays.

The 6,777 mile flight will be operated by a Boeing 787-9, featuring a total of 298 seats, including 30 business class seats, 21 premium economy seats, and 247 economy seats.

Air Canada’s 787 business class

The new flight is already bookable, and there’s plenty of award availability in both economy and business class.

There’s both business and economy award space on the flight

Why Air Canada’s Doha flight surprises me

On the surface this route doesn’t make much sense:

  • Doha as such is a fairly small O&D aviation market; the reason Hamad International Airport is so busy is because Qatar Airways offers global one-stop connections from the airport
  • Air Canada doesn’t have a partnership with Qatar Airways; Air Canada belongs to Star Alliance, while Qatar Airways belongs to oneworld
  • In fairness, Air Canada does have more of a presence in the Arabian Peninsula than the “big three” US airlines, as Air Canada flies to Dubai

Doha as such is quite a small O&D market

Qatar Airways has been wanting to expand in Canada for quite a while, but Canada has protectionist policies towards Air Canada. The bilateral aviation agreement between Canada and Qatar only allows Qatar Airways to operate up to four weekly flights, and the airline chooses to fly to Montreal. However, we know that Qatar Airways also wants to fly to Toronto and Vancouver.

For a one month period over the summer Qatar Airways actually flew to Toronto, but as it turned out, that permission was only temporary.

What makes this announcement most interesting is that Air Canada will be partnering with Qatar Airways to offer connectivity beyond Doha:

  • Only time will tell if this is a simple interline agreement, or if we see Air Canada and Qatar Airways launch a closer partnership, including frequent flyer reciprocity; Aeroplan has added all kinds of great airline partners lately, so it would be awesome to see Qatar Airways also added as a partner
  • If Qatar Airways can’t launch flights to Toronto, I guess the airline is still better off capturing some connecting traffic off Air Canada, since it might otherwise be routed through Dubai or another major hub
  • Even so, I question the extent of the demand here, especially in current times; for example, India is a huge market, but with the current air bubble agreement, only special nonstop flights are permitted, so passengers couldn’t just book themselves from Toronto to Delhi on Air Canada & Qatar Airways

Doha Hamad International Airport

This is an interesting one, and I’m curious to see what the partnership with Qatar Airways looks like, and also how long this route lasts.

Bottom line

Air Canada will be launching 3x weekly flights between Toronto and Doha as of December 2020, offering connectivity beyond Doha thanks to Qatar Airways (though the details of the agreement remain to be seen).

We know Qatar Airways has been wanting to grow in Canada, but the Canadian government has prevented the airline from doing so. Now we’re seeing a Canadian airline grow in Qatar.

What do you make of Air Canada’s new Doha route?

  1. @ Ben — Let’s see, who do I want to fly to Doha? An airline that has a documented track record of stealing refunds, or Qatar Airways? No one should EVER fly Air Canada if they have a choice of airlines.

  2. Doha is the only city Iā€™ve been where the airport is more interesting than the city itself. Qatar Airways and the airport are great, but I prefer connecting onwards to somewhere interesting šŸ˜‰

  3. @Andreas
    I found there was more than enough to keep me happy for a long weekend in Doha — the National Museum is extraordinary (and wonderful architecture), the Museum of Islamic Art has breathtaking exhibits in a delightful building (with a really nice restaurant!), outside the city there are desert safaris that can be more or less fairground-ride to taste, there’s even a bit of falconry, plus assorted smaller / more specialist museums and galleries. But I’d concede it’s not a place for wandering city streets in the height of summer when the temperatures are wild (except for that extrarodinary new up-market shopping district where they have built air conditioning ducts into the sidewalks, cooling wafts of air breezing up from underneath you in a way that irresistibly reminds you of Marilyn Monroe.

  4. a) Noone is going to choose AC over QR (in Y or J) – you’d be insane. Fact that AC will steal your money just adds to it. But alas, the subsidy AC keeps receiving in the form of protectionism keeps QR out of YYZ.

    b) What they do with DXB I suspect will be done with DOH – 99% transit pax to AI/PK/BG/UL – There is enough demand to secondary cities in those countries to connect to the longhaul AC flights. Almost all AC pax at DXB connect to those secondary airlines there.

    c) Maybe AC was told, start DOH, and we have to let QR in. That would be enough to poop their pants, because that would take away all their India traffic (direct and via FRA) going back to a) Who would ever choose AC over QR?????

  5. Are women still subject to vaginal inspections in Doha airport whenever a newborn is found in the bathrooms?

  6. It’s not a coincidence that QR’s recent SFO announcement and now this Air Canada connectivity came in the wake of work visa changes in the US that explicitly require workers to be paid above locals’ wages to ensure an import focused on caliber rather than on cost – there will be less passengers flying to and from the subcontinent, while the ones flying will instead be higher value.

    Canadian policy will inevitably follow the U.S. and break away from the “efficiency first” model toward balancing all stakeholders, which inevitably means active trade policy, which inevitably means scrutinizing state-sponsored companies like QR.

  7. @ADP
    “scrutinizing state-sponsored companies like QR.”

    And, presumably, state-sponsored companies like Boeing, the US Big 3 airlines, and pretty much every other major US corporation that’s just shoved their hands in the tax-payers’ pockets to get as much socialist money as they can…?

    Or should that scrutiny only apply to damn commie furrin companies?

  8. @ADP… there is probably not an airline that’s more state sponsored than AC

    *protectionist subsidy not allowing ME3 to destroy them internationally.

    *no laws for refunds allowing AC to steal billions $ in camcelled flights

    *free handouts in 2008/09

    *government worker contracts

  9. @The nice Paul, @Cara – I don’t doubt the value of what both of you are saying; I’m just highlighting the reality that people are interested in flying to Canada and North America rather than to Qatar or the Middle East in general – which means that Canada and the U.S. are the ones with the power in this transit relationship.

    Now is the time for Boeing and Airbus to leverage the ME airlines’ reliance on Open Skies to make them eat on-time plane deliveries en masse. Who will they turn to in response in the future – China’s COMAC? Russia’s UAC?

  10. Qatar did operate some flights to Vancouver in the early summer. And they were publicly thanked by the Prime Minister for the repatriations.

  11. I avoid AC and only fly them when there are no other options.

    From Toronto to Doha one is better off flying to YUL and taking QR from there.

    Doha is not too exciting but having spent a few days there with the family some years ago the souk is ok and the dune bashing was great and beach was nice.

  12. Could it be because of the World Cup Football in 2022? Maybe Air Canada is prepping for the North American routes to Doha (besides QA).

  13. News for sure, but completely bad news in my opinion, as there is absolutely no way I would ever fly to Doha with AC, whether connecting, or Doha being my final destination. Air Canada…what an absolutely terrible company and airline.

    Unfortunately, for folks with tight budgets, who can’t simply position out of YUL for a QR flight, they’ll have to put up with god-awful AC.

    I pray one day QR gets this YYZ-DOH route.

  14. Considering what recently to several female passengers en route to Sydney, NSW, Australia, I am very sceptical about the security at Doha.
    These passengers were subjected to very personal medical exams without consent because a newborn baby was discovered abandoned in the airport restroom.

  15. @bingo
    it’s still significantly cheaper to fly from YYZ-BOS-DOH in economy, and YYZ-YUL-DOH for business– not sure why this route really exists at this price

  16. Qatar Airways is a government run and subsidized airline much like Emirates. Air Canada is a publicly traded Airline Stoc. I personally feel very safe and in most cases well looked after when I board an Air Canada flight. Human Rights are likely non existent for the employees of Qatar Airlines. Whilst Air Canada Staff are unionized and have rights as human beings. Again Iā€™ll fly Air Canada anytime.

  17. Congratulations Air Canada on the DOH route. Give it a go. Look after your Customers and look toward success with both passengers and cargo. If things donā€™t pan out, you can always move on to bigger and better things.
    Airlines of a Foreign Country should not have cCart Blanche In Canada and vs a versa. Some of those on this web site donā€™t see that until it affects their jobs or the jobs of their families in Canada . Again selfishness comes into play when I hear cheap cheap fares at the cost of airline staff, or to the The airline that is not protected by the deep pockets of a state owned airline.

  18. @Benjamin Ross,
    Unless you have NEVER bought a foreign product because it cost less than a Canadian product, your argument rings hollow!

  19. @Bruce- exactly bad timing to be reading anything about Qatar and itā€™s actions to all of those female passengers – inexcusable – I hope they form a class action law suit – I love the airline but suddenly itā€™s soured

  20. Did a few price comparisons in economy and business class:

    DOH-YYZ-DOH 18 December to 2 January

    Air Canada
    Economy: 1732 CAD
    Business: 5741 CAD

    Qatar Airways
    Economy: 3257 CAD
    Business: 13184 CAD

    DOH-YUL-DOH. 21 June to 23 August

    Air Canada
    Economy 1585 CAD
    Business 5755 CAD

    Qatar Airways
    Economy 2653
    Business 9290

  21. @NL Expat
    i guess in peak season AC is cheaper, but from jan-may (when i’m planning to fly) flying QR (YYZ-BOS-DOH-LHE) is $870 round trip vs paying $1100 to fly AC (YYZ-DOH-LHE)

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