Dubai: Since the UAE government’s announcement that it would cut diplomatic ties with Qatar earlier this month, five UAE-based carriers have suspended all flights to and from Doha. The suspension came into effect on June 6 and is until further notice.
The move came as the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Egypt said they would sever diplomatic ties with Qatar amid escalating tensions and accusations that Doha sponsors terrorism.
Commercial carriers such as Emirates, Etihad Airways, flydubai, and Air Arabia, as well as Royal Jet, the private flight service provider, all suspended their flights to and from Qatar.
They also said they would provide customers who had existing bookings with alternative options including a full refund and free rebooking to a nearby destination.
In its statement when the suspension was announced, Emirates said, “Travellers bound for Doha who are boarding their flight from airports around the Emirates network will be advised to make alternative arrangements.
All customers booked on Emirates’ flights to and from Doha will be provided with alternative options, including full refunds on unused tickets and free rebooking to the nearest alternate Emirates destination.”
On top of that, the UAE banned all international flights serving Doha from flying through its airspace. The General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) on June 8 said the UAE’s airspace will be closed to any aircraft flying to and from Doha.
This was later updated, however, to say that the ban on using UAE’s airspace only applies to Qatari means of transport.
Meanwhile, the GCAA on June 7 said it has taken a decision to shut all offices of Qatar Airways in the country with immediate effect. Saudi Arabia and Bahrain took similar measures a day earlier, revoking the licenses of Qatar Airways and ordering its offices to close within 48 hours.
Qatar Airways also suspended flights to Saudi Arabia where the carrier flies to nine cities, as well as flights to the UAE, Bahrain, and Egypt.
The suspension is likely to hurt Qatar Airways’ growth plans, with the carrier (formerly) operating a shuttle to Dubai 14 times daily and frequent flights to Riyadh and Cairo.
If the ban continues, the carrier’s revenue could drop by 30 per cent due to lost traffic, the cost of diverting flights, and a drop in bookings and demand, according to estimates from consultancy Frost & Sullivan.
— With inputs from Bloomberg