Gulf tension in the skies as well as on the ground

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The Dubai Air Show began with a notable absentee: Qatar Airways, which since June has been banned from flying to, from or over the United Arab Emirates as part of a wider geo-political row. Many of the Airbus A320s grounded because they cannot fly to Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain or Egypt have been seen in the UK this summer, flying for British Airways during a cabin-crew strike by members of the Unite union and part of the Monarch Airlines rescue airlift.

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But the two rival UAE airlines, Emirate and Etihad, are locked in a battle for passengers with the carrier funded by the Qatari state and run by Akbar Al Baker — and seeing their financial performances slump as competition and external threats intensify.

A reciprocal overflight ban by Qatar on aircraft from the countries which have imposed the restrictions is not having a significant effect on the operations of Etihad and Emirates. Etihad, meanwhile, is busy clearing up the mess left by a series of ill-judged investments in failing European airlines. Air Berlin closed down last month after the Abu Dhabi airline declined to pump any more cash into the failing German carrier. While Alitalia is still afloat, Etihad’s 49 per cent investment in 2014 has been spent. In July, the Gulf airline reported a $1.87bn (£1.42m) full-year loss.

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Source Credit: Independent
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