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.


Egypt hosts talks over Libyan reconciliation process

Updated 30 September 2020

Egypt hosts talks over Libyan reconciliation process

  • The Red Sea coast city of Hurghada has been playing host to discussions over stabilizing a cease-fire in the country

CAIRO: Talks aimed at paving the way for a political and economic solution to the conflict in Libya have been taking place in Egypt.

The Red Sea coast city of Hurghada has been playing host to discussions over stabilizing a cease-fire in the country, securing oil fields and oil installations, and establishing government institutions and infrastructure.

Officials taking part in the security meeting are working to set up military committees in the east and west of Libya with a view to them forming a unified force for the country and reaching a comprehensive settlement based on the outcomes of January’s Berlin Conference and the resulting Cairo Declaration.

Political adviser to the speaker of the Libyan House of Representatives, Fathi Al-Marimi, said all Libyan forces were currently gearing up for a meeting in Geneva next month with talks on the selection of a new presidential council — which would consist of a president, two deputies, a prime minister and two deputies representing the regions of Cyrenaica, Fezzan, and Tripoli — and economic, military, and security issues going forward.

During the first half of October, Cairo will host the largest conference for the Libyan national reconciliation process with the participation of officials, tribal elders, and other representatives, to map out a comprehensive peace plan.

Hassan Al-Mabrouk, a member of the preparatory committee for the reconciliation conference, said: “The committee contacted many leaders from various Libyan regions, including Misrata, Tripoli, and all regions of the west, south, and east, and they expressed their willingness to participate in the reconciliation conference in Cairo in October.”

He added that the committee urged Libyan authorities, the international community, and all relevant organizations to help solve the Libyan crisis and preserve the unity and sovereignty of the country without external interference. This would include the removal of mercenaries and the disbanding of militias.

National reconciliation could only be achieved through the immediate release of prisoners and detainees, Al-Mabrouk said, along with the implementation and generalization of a general amnesty law issued by the Libyan Parliament, and the return of displaced people.

He added that social leaders, scholars, and imams had a religious and social duty to succeed in bringing the nation together in peace and that 10 years of war, blood, destruction, waste of wealth and hatred among Libyans should provide sufficient food for thought.

“Holding the conference before the Geneva meeting will contribute to creating an atmosphere for the political transition by representing all groups in the next stage,” he said.