So much for flying the friendly skies. The last month has been marked by bickering aplenty between this country’s largest airline, Air Canada, and Emirates Airlines, the state-sponsored carrier from the United Arab Emirates.

The latter wants to deliver new air service to Vancouver — and bolster flights elsewhere in Canada. It’s a desire that has been met with stiff resistance — and plenty of tough talk — from Air Canada. Calin Rovinescu, the top boss at the airline, has taken his campaign on a national tour of sorts — telling folks from Vancouver to Montreal that new flights from Emirates into Canada will cost this country jobs and money.

It’s a tough argument to accept, given the underwhelming state of air travel in this country, and a possibly marginalized future for Vancouver International Airport. The airlines spat has spilled over into the press, with numerous policy wonks and transportation analysts adding their two cents’ worth.

But what may have been missed amidst the trash talk and punditry was a fascinating report recently published by the Australia-based Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation, an aviation market think-tank that has been observing this turf war with particular zeal — and some contempt.

“It is intriguing to examine precisely where the vaguely defined threat to Air Canada exists,” says the report. “What exactly is the flag carrier being protected from?”

There’s the thorny issue of flying costs. “The simple fact is that Air Canada’s network is skeletal at best,” it says. “This helps make Canada one of the more inaccessible (and higher priced) destinations for most travellers.”

There’s also the issue of YVR. “Vancouver is ... a delicate issue for Air Canada. It needs to humour the airport and the local commercial interests, while recognizing that its clear economic priority has to be to bed down in Toronto.”


And finally, this analysis of Canadian aviation economics — and public relations.

“The carrier has chosen to consolidate its operations on Toronto, reflecting the economics of a lower-yielding Vancouver gateway and the value of focusing on a single hub. Air Canada simply doesn’t have the scale to manage two major airport hubs at this stage. So the argument against Emirates had to be more carefully constructed for Vancouver consumption.”

Translation: We are being duped.

But what’s good for Toronto is also good for the rest of Canada, right?