Qatar Crisis: Qatar Airways Barred From Saudi Arabia Airspace

Airplane flying over Doha Qatar
Photo by Hvoenok/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

The diplomatic crisis between Qatar and Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) continued to disrupt air travel Tuesday. 

On its official Twitter account Qatar Airways reported that its operations are running normally, with the exception of the suspension of all flights to Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE. The airline said that it has arranged for three charter flights departing Jeddah to Muscat in order to assist all Qatar Airways passengers in Saudi Arabia. 

“We encourage all Qatari passengers stranded to make their way to King Abdulaziz International Airport to avail of these three flights today,” the airline said. Additionally, all affected passengers in Doha who had been scheduled to fly to Saudi Arabia have been assisted with alternate travel arrangements. 

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The BBC reports that Saudi Arabia has closed its airspace to Qatar Airways, forcing the airline to modify some of its flight routes. The modifications could potentially add to travel time, although the airline has not yet said by how much. 

According to Air Transport World, Qatar Airways CEO Akbar al Baker left the International Air Transport Association’s (IATA) general meeting (AGM) in Cancun early to deal with the situation. 

At an AGM press conference IATA Director General and CEO Alexandre de Juniac told Air Transport World, “We are not in favor of bans and we would like to see connectivity restored as soon as possible.”

Reuters reports that Emir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber al-Sabah of Kuwait will meet with Saudi Arabia's King Salman Tuesday in an effort to mediate the dispute. 

As we reported yesterday, the Qatar diplomatic crisis has caused a number of other Middle Eastern airlines to cancel all flights into the country as well. Etihad Airways and Emirates have both announced plans to suspend all flights, providing customers with refunds on unused tickets or free rebooking to alternative destinations. 

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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