MONTREAL, Canada, Aug 8 – Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates have agreed to open up flight corridors for sanctions-hit Qatar’s state-owned flag carrier Qatar Airways, the world aviation agency said Tuesday.
The Montreal-based International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has been working with “various Middle Eastern states to ensure equitable access to airspace for Qatar-registered aircraft” since sanctions were announced on June 5, ICAO spokesman Anthony Philbin said.
“Some existing air route availability has been assured, and some new temporary or contingency routes have also been developed,” including through Bahrain and UAE airspace, he told AFP.
Qatar is facing its worst political crisis in decades, with Saudi Arabia leading a four-state bloc that suspended all ties with Doha two months ago over accusations the emirate had close ties to Islamist extremist groups and Saudi Arabia’s regional rival Iran.
Qatar has denied the allegations, arguing that the sanctions aim to bring the gas-rich emirate to its knees.
Sanctions imposed by Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the UAE and Egypt included a ban on Qatar using the bloc’s ports and airspace.
The air traffic restrictions have caused headaches for the 2.4 million residents of Qatar, 90 percent of whom are foreigners, as flights were forced to take longer routes, for example, to Southeast Asia.
“The ICAO and the states involved are continuously monitoring related air route suitability and ATM (air traffic management) measures, which may still be subject to further modification if necessary, by mutual agreement,” Philbin said.