Emirates and Etihad Suspend Flights To and From Qatar Amid Diplomatic Dispute

UAE airlines are suspending flights to Doha from Tuesday after five Arab states, including the UAE, severed diplomatic as well as land, air and sea ties with Qatar.

The Abu Dhabi airport also will not receive Qatar Airways flights from Tuesday as the row with Qatar escalates. As well as closing its land border, Saudi Arabia will close as of Tuesday its airspace to Qatari commercial, state and business flights, Saudi Arabia’s General Authority for Civil Aviation said on Monday. Any airlines wishing to fly across the Kingdom’s airspace from Qatar will need to seek permission from the authority and have one week to do so, it said.

Etihad, Emirates, flydubai and Air Arabia have all suspended flights to Doha from the UAE starting on Tuesday.

“Abu Dhabi Airports confirms that all 10 daily flights between Abu Dhabi and Doha will be suspended at Abu Dhabi International Airport until further notice, and passengers are advised to contact their respective airline for a confirmation on their flights for [Monday],” said a spokeswoman for Abu Dhabi Airports.

There will be no flights between Abu Dhabi airport and Qatar from Tuesday, she said. Qatar Airways operates six return flights a day from Abu Dhabi, followed by four from Etihad. The Doha-based airline said it had suspended all flights to the UAE from June 6, along with flights to Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Egypt until further notice.

Etihad flights to Doha will stop from Tuesday until further notice, according to an Etihad spokesman.

The last Etihad flight from Abu Dhabi to Doha will depart at 2.45am on June 6.

The last Etihad flight from Doha to Abu Dhabi will depart at 4am on June 6.

Flights connecting Doha with Saudi Arabia and Bahrain are also suspended, with Saudi Arabia imposing a no-fly zone for Qatari planes. Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Yemen and the UAE have sealed their borders with Qatar.

The ban on flights between the UAE and Doha will have large-scale ramifications on the region’s aviation sector, in additional to Qatar Airways’ loss of big markets such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia, according to Peter Morris, the chief economist at Flight Ascend Consultancy in London.

“While in theory Emirates or Etihad might be thought to benefit, it is possible the overall negative impact on regional travel and regional connections will affect them negatively as well,” he said. “If large areas of nearby territories become no-fly zones, operating costs will rise significantly and flight times will increase, [with] implications for aircraft scheduling as well.”

There is also the possibility that the regional tensions might lead to an increase in global aviation fuel prices, Mr Morris said.

Qatar Airways had built up Doha as its hub for the flights connecting South Asia and Europe and North America.

“If this traffic weakens and load factors drop on services to all destinations, Qatar Airways would be faced with having to reduce service levels or increase prices across a wide range of routes, not just those directly affected,” Mr Morris said.

Etihad and Emirates said that customers who are booked on flights to and from Doha will be provided with alternative options, including full refunds on unused tickets and free rebooking to the nearest alternate destinations.

Emirates operates seven return flights a day between Dubai and Doha, while flydubai operates up to six return flights a day between the two cities.

Dubai Airports did not comment, directing inquiries to individual airlines.

Source: The National

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