Saudi Airlines will suspend flights to Toronto Pearson International Airport from Monday, 13 August due to an intensifying diplomatic row.
The national carrier of Saudi Arabia had been operating a thrice-weekly Boeing 777 route from Riyadh since October 2013 when it became the fourth Middle East carrier along with Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways to fly to Toronto. Etihad and Emirates have recently announced plans to up the frequencies of services.
The Saudi Press Agency said: “In an official statement, that Saudi Airlines has announced an immediate suspension of reservations on its flights to Toronto, Canada, and the suspension of all flights to and from Toronto from Monday, 13 August 2018
“The airline added that any canceled tickets will be accepted with no cancellation charges to be applied. They stated that they will make all efforts to find solutions for passengers who have booked flights to or from Canada.”
Earlier yesterday, Canada refused to to back down in its defence of human rights after Riyadh froze trade and investments and expelled the Canadian ambassador in retaliation for the country’s call to free arrested Saudi civil society activists.
Neighbours and allies Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates said they stood with Riyadh, although they did not announce similar measures.
The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) also supported Saudi policy, but Qatar, which is locked in a diplomatic rift with Saudi Arabia and other neighbours for over a year, said on its Twitter account that the GCC secretary general’s statement “did not represent its view of the situation”.