Qatar Airways hit by Gulf diplomatic row

Qatar Airways hit by Gulf diplomatic row

Qatar Airways is a clear victim of the diplomatic argument between Qatar and five other Middle East States. Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the UAE and Bahrain are stopping air and sea travel to Qatar. Saudi Arabia is also shutting land crossings.

The UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs has released a statement, claiming that Qatar continues to “undermine the security and stability of the region” by “funding and hosting terror groups”.

Much of Qatar Airways traffic is long-haul. But the airline runs 19 daily flights from Doha to Dubai and Dubai World Central alone. Etihad operates five flights per day from Abu Dhabi to Doha, Emirates flies four times a day between Dubai and Doha and flydubai six.

Saudi Arabia has closed of its airspace to all Qatari aircraft, meaning Qatar Airlines routes to Southern India and Africa will have to divert.

A spokesperson for Qatar Airways said: “They had no comment at the moment.”

Etihad, Emirates and flydubai are stopping all flights to and from Doha from tomorrow. Gulf Air and Egypt Air have not formally cancelled routes yet but announcements are due later. The Saudi Press Agency says there is a ban on all commercial and private aircraft registered in Saudi Arabia flying to Qatar.

The diplomatic row comes at a time when Middle Eastern airlines are already seeing slowing markets. IATA says that Middle Eastern airlines grew capacity by 8.9% in April with traffic up 10.8% and load factor up 1.3 points to 76.5%. Although this looks impressive, it is significantly below the five-year average for the fourth month in a row.

Alex Baldwin
By Alex Baldwin June 5, 2017 13:24