x

Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 17 December 2018

Qatar fighter jets intercept second UAE passenger plane

Bahrain's foreign ministry identified one of the planes as Emirates flight number EK837

The UAE passenger planes were both travelling to Manama, pictured, when they were intercepted by Qatari fighter jets. Getty Images
The UAE passenger planes were both travelling to Manama, pictured, when they were intercepted by Qatari fighter jets. Getty Images

Qatari fighter jets "intentionally" intercepted two UAE passenger planes flying to Manama on Monday morning, said the head of the Emirates' General Authority of Civil Aviation.

Saif Al Suwaidi said the first interception took place at 10.30am and the second at 11am.

Both planes landed safely in the Bahraini capital and were able to complete their return flights back to the UAE without incident. There were no reported injuries or deaths.

Bahrain's foreign ministry identified one of the planes as Emirates flight number EK837. That flight left Dubai at 8.20am on Monday and landed 46 minutes later, flying out over international waters near the northern tip of Qatar, Associated Press reported.

Mr Al Suwaidi said both flights were regular services and that Qatar had shown no prior objection to their flight paths.

He did not elaborate on the details of the encounters but said the Qatari jets had acted in a dangerous manner and put the lives of innocent civilians at risk.

_____________

Read more:

UAE's Gargash slams Qatar's 'weak' excuses

Qatar year in review: isolation casts a shadow over economic prospects for 2018

_____________

"We hold Qatar responsible for this intimidation and hope that it doesn't occur again," he said, adding that Qatar's actions went against both international law and aviation law.

Airplane tracking website FlightRadar24 did not show any unusual routes between the UAE and Bahrain on Monday. "There appears to be no deviation from standard routing and approach patterns in today's flights," spokesman Ian Petchenik told AP.

Qatari government spokesman Saif Al Thani said the UAE's allegations were "completely untrue" and that a "detailed statement" would follow.

The incident comes just days after Doha accused Emirati fighter jets of violating Qatari airspace and as a row between Qatar and a quartet of Arab countries that includes the UAE shows no sign of ending.

Justin Bronk, an expert on aerial combat at the Royal United Services Institute, a London-based think tank, said in such interceptions jets usually flew alongside planes to both harass and escort them out of a particular country's air space.

"Once a plane is intercepted, the first thing would [be] to make direct contact with the pilot through a communication terminal called guard frequency," he told The National, adding that similar incidents have occurred regularly since the Cold War.

Asked if Qatar had violated international law following news of the first interception on Monday, Mr Bronk said: “We have little information on the communications that were made between Qatar and the UAE plane and on the exact location of the UAE plane, [so I] cannot say at this point.”

Since June last year, the UAE, along with Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Egypt, has imposed a diplomatic and economic boycott on Doha over its support of extremist groups. The quartet also accuses Qatar of meddling in the internal affairs of its neighbours.

Qatar sent a complaint to the United Nations on Thursday last week alleging that an Emirati jet had violated its airspace on December 21 last year.

The following day Dr Anwar Gargash, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, tweeted that the claim was "untrue and confused". Hours later, Qatar said it had sent another complaint to the UN, this time alleging that an Emirati jet had violated its airspace on January 3.