Middle East Airlines Start Return to Normal After Saudi-Led Blockade Lifts
Qatar Airways plans to resume flights to Dubai next week and says it expects to return to Bahrain soon without specifying a date. Flights between Qatar and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) halted abruptly in 2017 after a row broke out between the Persian Gulf monarchies.
The blockade ended earlier this month. It began in June four years ago, when Saudi Arabia and several Gulf monarchies made a list of demands of Qatar, including reining in the often critical Al-Jazeera news network and curtailing ties with Iran. When Doha refused, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, Egypt, and several allied countries in the region cut diplomatic ties and sealed their borders with Qatar.
Airlines ceased flying to Qatar and the blockading nations prohibited Qatar Airways from using their airspace, forcing the airline to fly circuitous routes to many of its destinations. Qatar CEO Akbar al-Baker recently said the reopening shaved as much as two hours off flights to São Paulo.
Although flights over the blockading nations’ airspace resumed almost immediately after the January 5 agreement, flights to and from Doha have been slower to come back. Qatar’s resumption of flights to Dubai is an important symbolic move. Flights between Doha and Dubai resume on January 27.
Airlines in the region have been adding flights back tentatively. Air Arabia was the first to resume service between the UAE and Qatar this week. Qatar Airways and Saudia began operating between Qatar and Saudi Arabia last week. Qatar began operating to Egypt on Monday.
Etihad will start flying between Abu Dhabi and Doha on February 15. Dubai-based Emirates has not determined when it will resume flights to Qatar, a spokeswoman told Airline Weekly.Subscribe Now to Airline Weekly