Airspace ban on Qatari flights to protect citizens: Riyadh

A Qatar Airways plane lands at Hamad International Airport in Doha. (AFP)
Updated 13 June 2017

Airspace ban on Qatari flights to protect citizens: Riyadh

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia’s civil aviation authority said on Tuesday that the closure of its airspace to flights from Qatar was within the Kingdom’s sovereign right to protect its citizens from any threat.
The agency was commenting in reaction to remarks made by Qatar Airways’ chief executive that Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain were violating international law by shutting out Qatari flights.
The airspace closure was to protect the country and its citizens from anything it sees as a threat and as a precautionary measure, Saudi Arabia’s General Authority of Civil Aviation said in a statement published by the Saudi Press Agency (SPA).
Similar statements were also issued by the UAE and Bahraini aviation authorities after Qatar Airways Chief Executive Akbar Al-Baker criticized the three Arab countries for the airspace closure in an interview with CNN.
The UAE and Qatar have long been major proponents of open-skies air transport agreements, which remove restrictions on flying between states.
These policies helped the region’s largest airlines — Emirates, Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways — to develop their home airports as hubs linking passengers traveling between the east and west.
In all 18 destinations in the region are now out of bounds for Qatar Airways, which has also been forced to close its offices in Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
Qatar Airways will now use the aircraft that had been operated on those 18 destinations to fast track its expansion plans, Al-Baker later told Al Jazeera in an interview.
Al-Baker, warning that the blocking of airspace would also hurt competitors by undermining confidence in the region’s “air connectivity,” did not say which markets it would expand to.
The UAE’s General Civil Aviation Authority said it was fully committed to the Chicago Convention, but reserved the sovereign right under international law to take any precautionary measures to protect its national security if necessary, UAE state news agency WAM said.
Meanwhile, the UAE civil aviation authority said the air embargo imposed on Qatar only applies to airlines from Qatar or registered there.
The embargo bans “all Qatari aviation companies and aircraft registered in the state of Qatar” from landing or transiting through the airspace of the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, according to the statements published by the national agencies of the three countries.
The ban does not apply to aviation companies and aircraft not registered in Qatar and the three neighboring countries, and which wish to cross their airspace to and from Qatar, they said.
An exception is made for private planes and charter flights to or from Qatar, which require permission to transit through the airspace of the three countries, the statements said.
A permission request must be submitted 24 hours in advance and include a list of the names and nationalities of both crew and passengers, as well as the nature of cargo on board.


Turkey’s Erdogan says no agreement yet on four-way Syria summit

Updated 25 February 2020

Turkey’s Erdogan says no agreement yet on four-way Syria summit

  • Turkey has sent thousands of troops and equipment to Idlib to head off the campaign driven by Russian air raid

ISTANBUL: Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday that there was not yet full agreement on holding a proposed March 5 summit with Russia, France and Germany on the conflict in Syria’s Idlib, but he may meet Russia’s Vladimir Putin on that date.
Syrian government forces are pushing to retake the last large rebel-held region in Syria after nine years of war and nearly a million Syrians, mostly women and children, have been displaced by the fighting since early December.
At a news conference in Ankara before departing on a trip to Azerbaijan, Erdogan said that a Russian delegation was set to come to Turkey on Wednesday to discuss the Idlib situation.
“There is no full agreement yet between (French President Emmanuel) Macron ... (German Chancellor Angela) Merkel, and Putin,” he said. Macron and Merkel have both urged Putin to end the conflict, concerned about the humanitarian situation.
On Saturday, Erdogan said that Turkey had set out a “road map” for Syria after calls with the three leaders, while the Kremlin has said it was discussing the possibility of holding a four-way summit.
Turkey has sent thousands of troops and equipment to Idlib to head off the campaign driven by Russian air raids and 17 members of the Turkish forces have been killed. Turkey already hosts 3.7 million Syrian refugees, says it cannot handle another wave and has closed its borders.