DUBAI: The United Arab Emirates said on Sunday that Qatari fighter planes had intercepted a civilian aircraft carrying 86 passengers aboard a flight bound for Bahrain, UAE state news agency WAM reported.
According to the UAE General Civil Aviation Authority, GCAA, the civilian aircraft was on a scheduled flight “after obtaining all the necessary approvals as per the international regulations, procedures and agreements.”
In a statement issued through WAM, the GCAA said the Qatari fighter jets flew “very close” to the Emirati aircraft, less than 700 feet, “leaving just a few seconds for the captain to maneuver his way away to avoid being hit, thus jeopardizing the safety of travelers onboard."
The GCAA has further stated that threatening the safety and well-being of civilian travelers in any way is a “completely unacceptable act,” and it will file a case with the International Civil Aviation Organization, ICAO, against this aggression.
The airliner involved has not been identified.
“Qatari jets chased the UAE passenger plane and came close to it leaving just seconds before collision... a very dangerous and unsafe approach which endangered the lives of passengers,” the authority said in a statement cited by news agency WAM.
Bahrain’s civil aviation agency said in a statement cited by news agency NBA that the Airbus 320 was travelling from Dammam in eastern Saudi Arabia to UAE capital Abu Dhabi.
Abu Dhabi’s airport is the main hub for Etihad Airways – however neither Etihad nor Emirates airlines were prepared to comment.
Sunday’s incident is not the first time the UAE has accused Qatar’s military of intercepting its civilian aircraft.
In January this year two Qatari jets flew dangerously close to two civilian aircraft traveling from the UAE while they were in Bahraini airspace, the Emirates civil aviation authority.
According to state news agency WAM the General Civil Aviation Authority condemned “provocative action,” at the time, which it said followed two similar incidents that had been reported by the UAE to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the United Nations’ aviation agency.
Qatar denied the claim in a statement by its civil aviation authority saying the UAE was trying to cover up for its own violations of Qatari airspace.
(With Reuters and AFP)