Air travel across the Gulf region and beyond faces major disruption following the move by Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain to sever ties with Qatar, accusing the tiny oil rich state of supporting terrorism. Saudi Arabia on Monday banned Qatari airlines from its airspace, while Abu Dhabi’s state-owned Etihad Airways and Dubai’s Emirates Airline said they would suspend all flights to and from Doha from Tuesday morning until further notice.
Qatar is home to global airline Qatar Airways and many airports in the Gulf region are major hubs for international connecting flights. Qatar’s main Hamad International Airport, for example, served around 9.8 million passengers in January-March, according to its website.
Saj Ahmad, the UK-based chief analyst at StrategicAero Research, warned of disruptions in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, as well as further afield. “Airspace will be impacted by flights being re-routed, especially for Qatar Airways who will no longer be allowed to use the expansive airspace of Saudi Arabia on flights to Europe and North America,” he said.