Dubai: Etihad Airways, flydubai, Emirates, and Air Arabia said on Monday they will suspend all flights to and from Doha starting June 6 and until further notice after the UAE announced it is severing diplomatic ties with Qatar.
The four main UAE-based carriers said flights on June 5 will operate as per schedule.
In a statement on its website, Etihad said the last flight from Abu Dhabi to Doha will depart at 2.45am (local time) on June 6, and the last flight from Doha to Abu Dhabi will depart at 4am (local time) on the same day.
Etihad said it is providing all its customers who booked flights to and from Doha with “alternative options including full refunds on unused tickets and free rebooking to the nearest alternate Etihad Airways destinations.”
Similarly, flydubai said it is suspending all its flights between Dubai and Doha. In a statement, the carrier urged passengers who have purchased tickets to fly between Dubai and Doha to “contact their travel agent, the flydubai travel shop in Doha on 00974 4 4227350/51 or our contact centre in Dubai on (00971) 600 544445 to arrange a refund.”
Dubai-based Emirates also said it will suspend flights to and from Doha from the morning of June 6. The last flight from Dubai to Doha will depart at 2.30am on June 6, while the last flight from Doha to Dubai will depart at 3.50am on the same day.
“Emirates’ flights to and from Doha today (June 5) will operate as normal. Travellers bound for Doha who are boarding their flight from airports around the Emirates network today will be advised to make alternative arrangements,” an Emirates spokesperson told Gulf News.
Emirates added, “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.”
Meanwhile, Air Arabia said it is suspending Doha flights to and from both Sharjah’s airport and Ras Al Khaimah’s airport from June 6.
“The last outbound flight from Sharjah to Doha will depart today (June 5) at 6.30pm, while the last inbound flight from Doha to Sharjah will depart today at 7.25pm (local time). The remaining flights on June 5 will operate as normal,” Air Arabia said in a statement.
Bahrain-based Gulf Air took a similar measure, announcing the suspension of all its flights between Bahrain and Doha effective midnight June 6 and until further notice.
The suspension comes after the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Egypt said they are cutting diplomatic ties with Qatar amid escalating tensions over accusations that Doha sponsors terrorism.
Qatar Airways responded on Monday morning by saying it will suspend all flights to Saudi Arabia until further notice. That evening the carrier updated its statement on its website, saying it is also suspending all flights to the UAE, Bahrain, and Egypt.
Qatar Airways said flights on June 5 will operate as per schedule, but flights to all four countries would be suspended from June 6 morning. Flights to the UAE and Bahrain will be suspended from 3am (Doha time), while flights to Egypt will be suspended from 4am.
The carrier said it would provide customers with existing booking with options to get a full refund and free rebooking to the nearest destination.
Impact on Qatar Airways
The suspension from the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Egypt is expected to hurt Qatar Airways, especially as Egypt and the Kingdom are key markets for outbound Qatari travel, analysts said.
“Perhaps the biggest worry for a hub carrier like Qatar is the flow of connecting traffic through DOH (Doha’s Hamad International Airport), particularly to and from the South Asian subcontinent,” said Peter Morris, chief economist at Ascend, a UK-based consultancy.
He added, “If this traffic weakens and load factors drop on services to all destinations, Qatar are faced with having to reduce service levels or increase prices across a wide range of routes, not just those directly affected. Given the level of competition from airlines at other Gulf hubs, prices increases [is] probably a limited option.”