Emirates, Etihad cut ties with Qatar for political reasons; disrupts air freight operations
Jun 06, 2017: Four Middle East countries – Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and UAE – have closed airspace for flights landing and taking off between their respective countries and the State of Qatar. The clear impact of this decision is the closure of airspace to Qatar-operated flights merely overflying the four countries and not landing or taking off in one of the four countries.
Qatar remains under continuous radar as this news broke. One thought raised in everyone’s mind is how will Qatar manage to prepare itself to host one of the biggest sports event, that is the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Local reports say that Qataris are so worried about the blockade that they are stocking up on food. The border with Saudi Arabia is the only road route into the country; Qatar relies on sea ports for its materials and the airspace blockade is a huge logistical handicap to the country and its flagship airline, Qatar Airways.
Qatar Cargo informed on its website, "Qatar Airways has suspended all flights to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia until further notice. For existing bookings, please call +974 4423 5077 or contact your nearest Qatar Airways Cargo office."
“Qatar has very little airspace; it is largely surrounded by Bahrain airspace (the Bahrain FIR). A slither on the south is managed by Saudi Arabia while the UAE is on the eastern border.”
“Losing Saudi airspace is significant, but even worse would be losing Bahrain airspace since it practically encircles Qatar. Most Qatar Airways flights to Europe can (and prior to the airspace ban, did) track north of Saudi Arabia. Closing of Saudi airspace requires timely and costly diversions to other Middle East destinations as well as to most of Africa. Losing Saudi, Bahrain and UAE airspace would effectively ground Qatar Airways save for any fifth freedom services,” mentioned Centre for Aviation (CAPA), a Sydney-based aviation think-tank, in a latest analytical report.
“Etihad Airways & Etihad Cargo have suspended all flights to and from Doha until further notice,” the company said through a statement on their website.
“All customers who have cargo booked on Etihad flights to and from Doha are being provided with alternative options and will be contacted directly regarding their specific requirements. Should you have any concerns about specific shipments, please contact your local Etihad Cargo office or alternatively our dedicated customer service team can be contacted 24 hours a day, 7 days a week,” added the airline company.
The airline also informed, “All other Etihad Cargo flights, including to the rest of the Middle East, are operating as normal.”
“Any further changes to the status of flight schedules to Doha will be communicated through the appropriate channels.”
Emirates has also announced its decision to suspend flights.
"Losing Saudi, Bahrain and UAE airspace would effectively ground Qatar Airways," added CAPA. That's because Qatar actually has very little airspace relative to the size of the country.