Ottawa grounds direct flights to Beirut

Ottawa grounds Air Canada direct flights to Beirut just days before service was to begin

The federal government has cancelled Air Canada's licence to fly to Beirut just days before the service was supposed to start.

The airline was supposed to begin the non-stop service from Montreal this week. But it said it was told Saturday that the government pulled the licence over concerns about terrorism.

A report in The Globe and Mail Tuesday quoted airline and industry sources as saying U.S. officials had warned the federal government against allowing the flights.

The sources said the Americans were worried that flights from Beirut could become an easy way for terrorists to get into North America.

American influence denied

The newspaper quoted a spokesperson from the Solicitor General's Department as saying there was no American influence in making the decision.

Air Canada spokesperson John Rebber said the move came as a surprise.

"Fortunately, we have a number of strong airline partners and working with them, we can reroute our customers over Frankfurt or Vienna," Rebber said.

He said the loss of one more source of revenue is not good news for the cash-strapped airline.

Passengers wanting to get to Lebanon will instead have to take a flight that makes stops in Europe.