Egypt Eases Qatar Flight Restrictions, But Much of Ban Remains

Airplane flying over Doha Qatar
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Egypt has eased flight restrictions to and from Qatar, although some portions of the ban remain in place. 

Reuters reports that Egypt is now allowing airlines not registered in Egypt or Qatar to use its airspace to fly to and from Qatar. A ban on flights to and from Egypt by Qatari planes, however, remains in place. 

Qatar currently remains the subject of a diplomatic rift in which nine countries -- Mauritius, Mauritania, the Maldives, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Egypt, Bahrain, Yemen and Libya’s eastern-based government – have severed ties. Qatar Airways is banned from operating flights to or from the countries, as well as from overflying Saudi Arabian airspace, forcing it to reroute many of its flights. 

In his first interview regarding the crisis, Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker told CNN Money that the United States was exacerbating the problem after President Donald Trump endorsed the blockade. 

"[The U.S.] should be the leader trying to break this blockade and not sitting and watching what's going on and actually putting fuel on [the] fire," Al Baker told CNN Money. 

Meanwhile, Turkey has delivered fresh milk, yogurt, pultry and juice into Doha as the country faced a shortage of fresh produce due to the crisis, the BBC reports. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called the blockade inhumane and contrary to Islamic values, comparing it to a “death sentence.”

The Gulf nations have criticized Qatar for alleged support of the Muslim Brotherhood, which is considered a terrorist organization by Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Analysts have also said that the dispute is driving by a belief that Qatar is too closely aligned with Iran.

The crisis comes two weeks after Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt blocked several Qatar-based media outlets following comments allegedly made by Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim Al Hamad Al Thani hailing Iran as an “Islamic power” and criticizing President Donald Trump’s policy toward Iran. Qatar claims that the website was hacked and the report faked. Monday, Saudi Arabia’s state news agency said the move to cut ties was to “protect national security from the dangers of terrorism and extremism.”

Keep visiting www.travelagentcentral.com for further updates to this developing story.

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