No Surprise: Air Canada Cuts Toronto To Doha Route

No Surprise: Air Canada Cuts Toronto To Doha Route

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Air Canada has revealed that it will be cutting a long haul route, and I can’t say I’m surprised…

Air Canada ending Doha flights as of January 2023

As of January 31, 2023, Air Canada will be terminating its route between Toronto, Canada (YYZ) and Doha, Qatar (DOH). Air Canada explained in a statement that the route is being suspended indefinitely, and that this decision was made for commercial reasons.

Many were caught off guard when Air Canada announced in October 2020 that it would launch this route. The airline has operated the route with a Boeing 787. Frequencies have varied between 3x and 4x weekly — the route started 3x weekly, then it was expanded to 4x weekly, and then frequencies were decreased to 3x weekly.

An interesting aspect of this route has been that Air Canada partnered with Qatar Airways to offer connectivity beyond Doha. While there was a codeshare agreement, we didn’t see any frequent flyer cooperation beyond that, which made me suspect this wasn’t going anywhere.

Rather this was intended to primarily provide feed beyond Qatar, to all kinds of destinations in Africa, the Middle East, India, and beyond.

With Air Canada terminating this route, there will be no airline flying nonstop between Toronto and Doha. While I’m sure Qatar Airways would love to enter the market, Canada’s government has some protectionist policies, and Qatar Airways isn’t able to expand in Canada beyond its current service to Montreal (YUL).

With Air Canada terminating service to Doha, the carrier’s two remaining destinations in the Middle East are Dubai (DXB) and Tel Aviv (TLV).

Air Canada had an agreement with Qatar Airways

Why Air Canada cutting this route now makes sense

I suspect there are a couple of things contributing to this route cancelation.

First of all, Air Canada and Emirates recently launched a partnership, which is much more comprehensive than the partnership we saw between Air Canada and Qatar Airways. This includes a codeshare agreement, reciprocal mileage earning and redemptions, and reciprocal elite perks. This is much more lucrative for both Air Canada and for frequent flyers, so it’s no surprise that this would be prioritized.

Now, the catch is that there are caps on how many flights can operate between Canada and both Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. So Air Canada can’t just add additional flights to Dubai here.

Still, I suspect the route wasn’t performing all that well to begin with, and it would likely perform even poorer among high yield customers in the future, who might prefer the better reciprocity offered between Air Canada and Emirates.

Air Canada is prioritizing its partnership with Emirates

Bottom line

Air Canada is ending its Toronto to Doha route in a few weeks. I was surprised when this route was announced to begin with, so I’m also not surprised to see it cut. That’s especially true when you consider Air Canada’s new partnership with Emirates, which includes valuable reciprocity.

What do you make of Air Canada cutting its Toronto to Doha route?

Conversations (33)
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  1. Vimal Guest

    Air Canada is the one of the safest air line and has talented pilots in the world

  2. Umair Guest

    I feel this was bound to happen. Lets be obvious here Qatar Airways is obviously better than Air Canada in both service as well as in flight demand. Hopefully this route is resumed and that too by Qatar Airways and nor Air Canada

  3. Harvinder Sidhu Guest

    Qatar airline will start on this route -seems a mutual understanding .
    it will be very good and beneficial for Toronto- Amritsat passengers.

  4. Ben Guest

    I do not think lack of reciprocity and genuine partnership is the main cause but the pressure from Qatar airways on that route as many passengers stop in Doha to continue to other exotic destinations. So Air Canada was a medium to an end . Another reason only 5% of passengers has Doha as a final destination another reports reads. So Air Canada team thought this is not good enough to sustain this route. Air...

    I do not think lack of reciprocity and genuine partnership is the main cause but the pressure from Qatar airways on that route as many passengers stop in Doha to continue to other exotic destinations. So Air Canada was a medium to an end . Another reason only 5% of passengers has Doha as a final destination another reports reads. So Air Canada team thought this is not good enough to sustain this route. Air Canada needs to take a more adventurous approach to initiate and sustain more routes to promote a travel and tourism culture into the Canadian spirit among which West goes East initiative.

  5. Alex Guest

    Air Canada, the poorest airline, compared to Qatar Airways and Emirates would not compete in this area. I took Air Canada to Doha during World Cup tournament and regretted being a passenger. Actually, Qatar Airways to Montreal route non stop with free wifi and more than 4 great meals would be the best option for travellers. Air Canada is the worst airline ever in recent years

  6. Qasim Muhammed Guest

    Doesn't matter I don't care, but Air Canada is ignoring Toronto to Lahore. Large Pakistani community are suffering for years. Especially, when Air Canada has four flights daily to India. It is unjust for this preferential treatment for one community over another.

  7. Indopithecus Guest

    Flew J class YYZ-DOH on AC with onward connection via QR. What stood out was the low energy ‘grandmother’ service on AC (which actually was better than I expected) and the high energy, proactive FAs on QR. The food on QR absolutely smoked the utterly mediocre AC offerings. (The food at Pearson’s AC Signature Lounge was a standout, as was the service by way of comparison). I don’t understand why the Trudeau govt. keeps mollycoddling...

    Flew J class YYZ-DOH on AC with onward connection via QR. What stood out was the low energy ‘grandmother’ service on AC (which actually was better than I expected) and the high energy, proactive FAs on QR. The food on QR absolutely smoked the utterly mediocre AC offerings. (The food at Pearson’s AC Signature Lounge was a standout, as was the service by way of comparison). I don’t understand why the Trudeau govt. keeps mollycoddling private AC when it won’t provide service to Doha from YYZ. QR should be given a daily flight out of YYZ to Doha.

  8. TheBestBlackBrent Gold

    Some strong network analysis again. If you read some stats (https://www.routesonline.com/news/29/breaking-news/299142/air-canada-suspends-doha-route/) you can see that for example Iran was a very popular destination for pax on this flight and they bring in crazy good money due to the general lack of connectivity to / from Iran.

    Also the North American flights connecting in Doha are mainly occupied by expats paying tickets for VFR traffic, so all the conclusions that these routes cannot be 'profitable' do...

    Some strong network analysis again. If you read some stats (https://www.routesonline.com/news/29/breaking-news/299142/air-canada-suspends-doha-route/) you can see that for example Iran was a very popular destination for pax on this flight and they bring in crazy good money due to the general lack of connectivity to / from Iran.

    Also the North American flights connecting in Doha are mainly occupied by expats paying tickets for VFR traffic, so all the conclusions that these routes cannot be 'profitable' do not make any sense.

    AC just has to make choices regarding their long hauls since they do not have spare Dreamliners lying around, so a connection onto EK might make more sense if that partnership is closer. However, they operated DXB anyway already, so it is not like they had to choose between DXB / DOH. Overall a loss for Canadians mainly, with the AC monopoly still protected by the government.

  9. Jefff Guest

    I can see why:
    1: air Canada is more pricey
    2: Qatar Airways services are super in comparison to air Canada
    3: customer service of air Canada is below par

  10. Pierre J. T Guest

    So tired of that Canada protecting Air Canada and it’s poor services… once you flew Qatar business class or even regular class… do you really think travellers would go back to Air Canada which is always way more expensive than Qatar for 1/4 of the value …

    1. Bob Guest

      Imagine the shock of those who bought the flight as a codeshare and ending up on AC lol

  11. Kamlesh Jaisinghani Guest

    Air Canada needs more direct flights to sub continent destinations such as Colombo, Dhaka, all major Indian cities, All the Middle East carries act as middle man, I would rather take direct flight then a connection.

  12. Jay Guest

    I still find YUL-CAI in the books, so that's another destination in the Middle East

    1. Glen Guest

      Officially Egypt is a North African Arabic speaking but not Middle Eastern country (similar to Morocco).

    2. John Guest

      @Glenn

      Officially pedants are technically correct, but unofficially they're socially inept and should not be allowed to interact with normal people.

    3. Michael Guest

      And USA is a Central american country.

  13. Zoe Guest

    I’ve been on this flight many times and it was always busy. I was surprised at this cut as there are many Canadians in Doha and it was an easy trip back to Canada. To be honest though, it was the convenience not the quality that made me chose this flight. I probably won’t be choosing the air canada dxb flight instead.

    1. DenB Diamond

      It was the schedule. QR's YUL service is at a hideous time for anyone originating in the Middle East or Africa. 18 hours in Hamad? Hmmmm AC looks slightly less yucky

    2. To Clarify Guest

      You obviously haven't been to Hamad!

  14. IrishAlan Member

    I’m sure a lot of the reason for this flight existing was for Canadian team delegates going back and forward in the 18 months or so leading up to the World Cup. Now that the World Cup is over…

  15. Bob Guest

    Bottom Line: Air Canada trying to compete with QR is like a beat up constantly breaking down car competing with a Benz. It's just not gonna happen.

  16. Russ Member

    And the World Cup in Doha has now come and gone so that could have an effect here.

  17. Adil Guest

    I thought Qatar Airways had the right to fly to Canada 10 times a week and split it 4-3 between Montreal and Toronto. Has the agreement between the two countries been cancelled?

    1. Chief Guest

      Balance 3 is just in case for any cancellations.

    2. Sam Guest

      We can only dream QR would be allowed YYZ :(

    3. DenB Diamond

      I don't know. But I'm tempted to speculate. If QR were permitted to fly to YYZ beginning next Thursday, the planespotters would see their plane there Friday. I simply can't believe they would delay Toronto service if it was permitted. I have always assumed that the deal restricted QR to YUL and in exchange, AC got YYZ-DOH. Perhaps now that changes. 75,000 Avios + USD$100 for 12 hours in QSuites is a better value than...

      I don't know. But I'm tempted to speculate. If QR were permitted to fly to YYZ beginning next Thursday, the planespotters would see their plane there Friday. I simply can't believe they would delay Toronto service if it was permitted. I have always assumed that the deal restricted QR to YUL and in exchange, AC got YYZ-DOH. Perhaps now that changes. 75,000 Avios + USD$100 for 12 hours in QSuites is a better value than 250,000 Aeroplan points +CAD$120 for 12 hours in "Signature Class". I'm so confident in that statement I'm going to state it as a fact, not an opinion.

    4. Bob Guest

      Which is why AC has fought so hard against allowing QR into YYZ.

      They stand no chance.

      We should let QR (and EK/EY) operate as many flights as they can commercially sustain.

      And then noone has to put up with AC and their below 50% on time record

  18. DenB Diamond

    It's true that Air Canada and Emirates have "reciprocal redemptions" but the prices in Aeroplan points are so high that it might as well be unavailable. 90,000 - 140,000 points oneway in Business Class from North America to Middle East and beyond is a competitive price range but 340,000 is not. I sometimes feel I'm living in a parallel universe, in which OMAAT isn't seeing the same search results I see on AirCanada.com. I read...

    It's true that Air Canada and Emirates have "reciprocal redemptions" but the prices in Aeroplan points are so high that it might as well be unavailable. 90,000 - 140,000 points oneway in Business Class from North America to Middle East and beyond is a competitive price range but 340,000 is not. I sometimes feel I'm living in a parallel universe, in which OMAAT isn't seeing the same search results I see on AirCanada.com. I read this site faithfully and the enthusiasm for AC is unambiguous. But my experience (and that of all Canadian residents in this game) of Aeroplan 2.0 is disappointing and frustrating. I'd like to see some perceptive coverage of Aeroplan's glaring deficiencies, instead of endless puff. Aeroplan is for Canadians. Canadians are carrier-captive. We have to interact with this thing. I know this is an American publication with a mostly American audience, but this is a relevant part of the story. There's something wrong with Aeroplan. Where can we read about that, if everyone's drunk the KoolAid®?

    1. Lukas Guest

      Ignore the anytime pricing with Air Canada and focus on saver pricing with other airlines. Problem solved.

    2. Derek Guest

      DenB,

      You hit the nail on the head, but it seems all blog publications are either spoiled by the choice of options in not being limited to Canadian programs only, or, are so far in bed with Air Canada that they dare not mention anything other than the thralled unconditional support, admiration, or gratitude lest they find themselves sleeping on the couch with no inside scoop or preferred treatment.

      The reality is that you'll...

      DenB,

      You hit the nail on the head, but it seems all blog publications are either spoiled by the choice of options in not being limited to Canadian programs only, or, are so far in bed with Air Canada that they dare not mention anything other than the thralled unconditional support, admiration, or gratitude lest they find themselves sleeping on the couch with no inside scoop or preferred treatment.

      The reality is that you'll only hear of the issues plaguing the program in the crevices of comment sections here and there or Flyertalk.

      Sadly, this is the reality we live in

    3. ConcordeBoy Diamond

      Sadly, that's reality across the board now though: the days of sub 100K redemption for transoceanic Business/First travel are long gone.

      Heck, with many carriers nowadays, that'll barely get you into Premium Economy.

      And on the extreme end, Delta will happily look you square in the eye, then ask for 900K to a million miles for a single-person redemption to the likes of Sydney.

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IrishAlan Member

I’m sure a lot of the reason for this flight existing was for Canadian team delegates going back and forward in the 18 months or so leading up to the World Cup. Now that the World Cup is over…

4
Russ Member

And the World Cup in Doha has now come and gone so that could have an effect here.

2
Lukas Guest

Ignore the anytime pricing with Air Canada and focus on saver pricing with other airlines. Problem solved.

1
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