In the wake of an ongoing diplomatic dispute between Saudi Arabia and Canada, a Saudia Airlines pilot’s cordial goodbye to Canadian air traffic controllers may be proof that the political row hasn’t hurt all relations between the two countries.
In an audio clip of the polite interaction, the Saudia Airlines pilot can be heard bidding his Canadian hosts farewell before he takes off in the last direct flight from Canada to Saudi Arabia.
“Thank you Canada, you’ve been very hospitable, and we are sad that this might be our last flight for a while,” the pilot says.
The responding air traffic controller replies with: “Well, hopefully not, funny things happen in politics. We’ll see you back, hopefully.”
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia suspended all direct flights to and from Canada as part of retaliatory measures following a series of tweets by Canada’s foreign affairs department earlier this month.
In the tweets, Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland and her department criticized the arrests of social activists in Saudi Arabia and called for their immediate release.
The Middle Eastern kingdom took offence to the public condemnation and initiated punitive measures against Canada.
In addition to suspending direct flights between the two countries, Saudi Arabia has also expelled the Canadian ambassador, cancelled the lucrative scholarships of more than 15,000 Saudi students attending Canadian schools, and blocked new trade deals with Canadian companies.
For its part, the Canadian government has said it stands by its criticism of Saudi Arabian human rights. However, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has also said his government plans to improve the relationship.