Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Qatari Airlines Using Iran’s Airspace amid Row with Neighbours

While Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Bahrain have closed their borders and airspace to Qatari airlines, Iran would be the best alternative route for the country’s fights to Europe and Africa.

Iran can be the most suitable alternative route for Qatari aircraft heading for Europe and Africa, following the recent strife between Qatar and a number of Arab League member states, including Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain, which has prompted these countries to sever diplomatic ties with Doha and close their airspace to Qatari airlines.

The Arab countries cut their ties with Qatar on Monday morning, after they officially accused the gas-rich country of “sponsoring terrorism”. The administration of Saudi-backed resigned Yemeni president, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, Libya, and the Maldives later joined the camp in ending diplomatic ties.

On Monday, EgyptAir, Flydubai and Bahrain’s Gulf Air joined Etihad and Emirates in saying they would suspend all flights to and from Doha, a decision which will be put into effect as of Tuesday (June 6).

This comes as Qatar Airways has also cancelled flights to Bahrain, Egypt and the UAE as of Tuesday until further notice, the airline said on its website, a day after it had suspended flights to Saudi Arabia.

Currently, major Qatari airlines, particularly the country’s flag carrier Qatar Airways, find Iran the quickest and most accessible route for their flights to Europe and Africa.

Reports confirm that, as of today, Iran’s airspace will be open to Qatari airplanes.

Iran’s Civil Aviation Organization grants permission to foreign aircraft seeking to cross the country’s airspace after an official request is submitted by the interested state.

It is reported that the Iranian aviation authority has held a number of meetings on Tuesday to facilitate the issuance of permits for Qatari airlines.

Previously, en route to North Africa and Southern Europe, Qatari airplanes first entered Saudi Arabia’s airspace and then that of Egypt. However, following the imposition of the air sanctions on Qatar, the country’s planes currently need to use the Iranian, Iraqi and Jordanian airspaces to arrive at their destinations in these continents.

Arman Bayat, an Iranian air transport expert, maintains that despite the media reports about the great opportunity provided for Iran and Qatar to expand their air cooperation, the truth is that the ongoing regional crisis will not lead to a considerable rise in the Qatari planes’ use of Iran’s airspace.

“The air sanction will directly impact only 15 percent of the Qatar Airways’ flights destined for Africa and South America. It will also slightly influence some of the Qatari airlines’ flights heading for Asian countries, Far East and Southeast Asia.”

Iran’s airspace will be the Qatari aircraft’s main route to Europe, Central Asia and North America, he noted, reiterating that the recent crisis will hardly lead to any significant increase in the Qatari airplanes’ traffic in the Iranian air territory.

At present, almost 950 foreign airplanes cross Iran’s airspace every 24 hours. In case the Qatari airlines decide to use Iran’s airspace, the figure would reach 1,150 flights per day.

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