Under a three-year agreement starting February 21, passengers booking for India will travel on Air Canada flights to London's Heathrow Airport where they will be connected to Jet flights for Mumbai.
Air Canada stopped its direct India flights via Zurich in 2007 after it faced severe economic crunch. It entered into a sharing agreement with Lufthansa with Frankfurt as the hub for passenger transfer on the Canada-India sector.
With its deal with Jet Airways, Air Canada aims to safeguard its traffic on the growing India-Canada corridor till it gets its fuel-efficient, long-haul Boeing 787 Dreamliner in 2013 to re-start direct operations to India, according to reports.
Jet and Air Canada already have a partnership agreement to sell tickets for each other for the Toronto-Mumbai flights.
The heavy Canada-India sector via Dubai has proved to be lucrative for Emirates Airline which started its Dubai-Toronto flights in 2007. It introduced the double-decker Airbus A380 in mid-2009 to consolidate its hold on the traffic.
Last year, the UAE authorities even demanded more flights to Canadian cities for Emirates Airline and Etihad. But Canada refused, leading to its eviction from the UAE military base of Camp Mirage near Dubai which served as a staging ground for Canadian troops deployed in Afghanistan.
Air Canada was opposed to additional landing flights for Emirates and Etihad on the grounds that UAE carriers are taking Canadians to other places (like India), while making stopovers in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
The two airlines from the UAE currently operate six flights a week from Dubai and Abu Dhabi to Toronto. Emirates alone wanted to have six flights a week on this lucrative route.