Diplomatic Crisis between Qatar and other Gulf Countries Has Consequences for Passengers in Asia

Qatar Airways

The major diplomatic row which emerged on Monday between Qatar and many countries in the Middle East is also having consequences for air transport in the region.

On Monday, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt cut diplomatic ties with Doha over accusations that the Emirate supports extremism.

The feud is the most serious in decades in the region and has been simmering for years as Qatar has been perceived as a main financial supporter of Islamist fundamentalist organisations such as ISIS or the  Muslim Brotherhood.

Then Qatar Airways said on Monday it had also suspended all flights to Saudi Arabia as a major diplomatic crisis escalated in the Gulf region.On Monday night, Mauritius, the Maldives, Libya and Yemen severed their ties with Qatar, suspending all diplomatic and commercial relations.

This coming Tuesday, all the airlines of these countries will terminate their flights to and from Qatar. Emirates and Etihad from UAR as well as Gulf Air from Bahrain terminated flights on Monday night to the Qatari neighbour.

But the worst could still come: Egypt decided to close its air space to Qatari aircraft from Tuesday. Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE also closed their air space to Qatari registered aircraft.

The latest measure is likely to affect all the air connections from and to Qatar. Especially as it seems -according to aviation experts in the region- that Bahrain manages the upper airspace over Qatar while the now isolated emirate only controls its own lower airspace. Any closure of the upper space by Bahrain would definitely affect operations of the country’s national carrier. Qatar would then probably have to rely on Iran civil aviation authorities.

With the closure of Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and UAE air space for Qatari aircraft, limited possibilities are now left for Qatar national carrier to reach many of its destinations.

Qatar Airways will still be able to go to Europe by flying over Iran/Iraq, Jordan and Lebanon. It will certainly delay many connections and could also disrupt connections to Asia from Europe and America.

In a statement, Qatar Ministry of Foreign Affairs stressed that these measures will not affect the normal course of life of citizens and residents of Qatar. But it will definitely affect travellers around the world. As IATA opened its Annual General Meeting yesterday in Cancun, Qatar CEO had to rapidly go back home to manage the crisis…