CANADA-SINGAPORE DISPUTE SEEN NEAR A RESOLUTION

CANADA-SINGAPORE DISPUTE SEEN NEAR A RESOLUTION

A 2-year-old dispute between Canada and Singapore over bilateral air services may be near resolution, Canadian High Commission officials here said Friday.

They said the Canadian government had extended Singapore Airlines' temporary authorization to fly to Vancouver for another year, and the way was now open for officials from the airline to begin discussions with Air Canada on another route.A spokesman for Singapore Airlines Ltd. confirmed that its right to fly to Vancouver, due to expire in five days time, had been extended for one year by the Canadian aviation authorities.

However, the spokesman said no discussions had yet taken place over other flights.

Singapore Airlines has been operating a thrice-weekly service to Vancouver under a temporary authorization after a formal air services agreement between the two countries expired in August 1992.

A second former SIA route, Singapore to Toronto via Amsterdam and Vienna, remains suspended.

Canada terminated the Bilateral Air Pact between the two countries in 1992, because it said SIA's service to Toronto was depriving Canada's national carriers, Air Canada and Canadian Airlines International Ltd., of lucrative

trans-Atlantic revenue.

When Canada gave the required 12 months' notice of its plan to suspend the Air Pact in 1991, the Canadian carriers estimated their losses on the

trans-Atlantic route were running at C$175 million (US$127 million) a quarter.

Singapore said the termination notice was aimed at "depriving SIA of the right to pick up passengers between Europe and Toronto." The airline also accused Canada of protectionism.

During 1992, officials of the two countries met several times to try to settle the row without success, and SIA withdrew from the Toronto service but was granted the temporary right to continue its Vancouver service.

Since the dispute Canada has boosted its relations with the Asia-Pacific region and with Singapore in particular. Trade between Canada and Singapore reached C$1.11 billion ($804 million) in 1993.