UAE closes airspace to all flights to Qatar as Gulf crisis intensifies
The UAE banned all international flights serving Doha from flying through its airspace amid an escalating diplomatic crisis between Qatar and its Arabian Gulf neighbours.
The UAE’s airspace will be closed to any planes flying to or from the Qatari capital until further notice, the country’s civil aviation authority said on Thursday.
The move expands on an earlier ban on direct flights between the two countries and the UAE’s travel restrictions on Qatari passport-holders and citizens of other nations who have Qatari residence permits.
Access to the Qatar Airways website had also been blocked by the UAE’s telecommunications Regulatory Authority by early Thursday afternoon.
The UAE joined countries including neighbours Saudi Arabia and Bahrain in severing diplomatic ties with Qatar this week as well as all air, sea or land links. They accuse the tiny Gulf state of supporting Islamist militant groups, an allegation which Qatar denies.
With all adjacent nations on the Arabian peninsular now either closing their airspace to Qatar or demanding advance clearance, planes serving the country are now limited to routes to the north, via Iran and Kuwait. That disrupts flights to Doha particularly from Africa, India and Southeast Asia, which would usually use shortcuts over Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
Qatar Airways On Wednesday said it chartered four flights to return passengers on from Saudi Arabia to Doha via Kuwait or Oman, which have not cut ties. Otherwise, “global operations are continuing to run smoothly and remain unaffected,” said chief executive officer Akbar Al Baker. Qatar Airways did not respond to requests for comment on the UAE’s move.
The state-owned airline has been the biggest victim of the Gulf travel bans, another blow to its earnings amid other problems, including America’s prohibition on laptops in plane cabins and reduced premium-class travel as low oil prices hamper the region’s economic growth.
Updated: June 8, 2017 04:00 AM