Gulf states grant nine emergency routes to Qatar

Gulf states grant nine emergency routes to Qatar

ICAO has turned down Qatar's request to lift restrictions on its national carrier.

By Staff Reporter

Published: Wed 9 Aug 2017, 11:30 AM

Last updated: Thu 10 Aug 2017, 12:07 PM

The International Civil Aviation Organization has refused to intervene in regional political disputes and rejected Qatar's request to lift restrictions on its national carrier.

At the recent ICAO extraordinary session held following a complaint from Qatar, the ICAO council chairman emphasized that that the organisation focuses only on technical issues and avoids weighing in on political issues.

The move was praised by UAE General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) chairman and Minister of the Economy Sultan Al Mansoori, who noted that the airspace closures "have numerous cases of precedent" and that - to date - Qatar has raised no safety issues related to the restrictions.

"Our four states maintain that these airspace closures are a legitimate, justified, and proportionate response to Qatar's actions and are permitted under international law," he said.

Al Mansoori also responded to Qatari allegations that the airspace restrictions constitute a "blockade".

"Under international law, the term blockade means an action preventing entry and exit of all vessels to and from ports and, by analogy, to and from airports, whereas.the State of Qatar's airports and airspace remain open, and its maritime ports continue to operate at full capacity, receiving vessels and goods," he noted. "All other international traffic is operating normally to and from Qatar while using the airspace."

To ensure safe and smooth air operations, the GCAA - along with its counterparts in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Egypt - have granted the use of nine emergency routes for use by Qatari aircraft. The agreed upon emergency routes are located in overseas areas managed by the UAE, and will be used to facilitate air navigation and ensure safety, under the umbrella of the ICAO, which co-ordinates and oversees such agreements.

According to a GCAA source, the nine routes include one over the Mediterranean that is managed by Egypt and began operations on August 1. A Notice to Airmen - or NOTAM - has already been issued for this route and others agreed upon that exist over the Arabian Gulf.

"Our four states, with the cooperation of ICAO, have successfully implemented contingency measures that ensure the safety of international civil aviation in the region," Al Mansoori said.

According to Al Mansoori, the move reiterates the commitment of the UAE and its allies to "ensure the safety of international civil aviation in the region."

On Tuesday, ICAO spokesperson Anthony Philbin confirmed that the flight corridors include existing as well as new "temporary or contingency" routes for Qatar airways, and noted that the ICAO has been working with the UAE and other countries in the region since June 5 to facilitate the routes for Qatar-registered aircraft.

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