Gulf airlines suspend Qatar flights amid diplomatic row

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A Flydubai jet over the sky over Dubai, United Arab Emirates February 13, 2014. Jan Seba, Reuters File Photo

Several airlines from Persian Gulf countries announced that they are suspending flights to Qatar amid a diplomatic row. 

Dubai-based budget carrier flydubai said on Monday it would suspend flights to and from Doha from Tuesday after the United Arab Emirates (UAE) severed ties with Qatar.

“From Tuesday 06 June 2017 all flydubai flights between Dubai and Doha will be suspended,” the statement on Monday said.

Abu Dhabi’s state-owned Etihad Airways said it will also suspend all flights to and from Doha from Tuesday morning until further notice.

Saudi Arabian airlines also suspended flights to Doha.

Bahrain’s Gulf Air said it will also suspend flights to and from Doha from Monday night, according to a statement.

Qatar Airways, meanwhile, said on its official website on Monday that it had suspended all flights to Saudi Arabia.

Qatar also asked its citizens to leave the UAE within 14 days to comply with a decision by Abu Dhabi to sever ties with Doha, the Qatari embassy in Abu Dhabi said on social media.

“Qatari citizens must leave the UAE within 14 days, in accordance with the statement issued by the concerned Emirati parties,” the embassy tweeted.

Those who cannot travel directly to Doha should go through Kuwait or Oman, it said. 

The airlines’ suspension of flights came after Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the UAE and Bahrain severed their ties with Qatar on Monday, accusing it of supporting terrorism and opening up the worst rift in years among some of the most powerful states in the Arab world. 

An international affairs analyst has called Saudi Arabia and its allies move to severe diplomatic ties with Qatar as part of the Saudis’ proxy war with its main regional rival Iran. 

PHILIPPINE FLIGHTS UNAFFECTED

Following Qatar’s isolation, Philippine Airlines assured passengers that its four times weekly flights to and from Doha remain unaffected.

In a statement PAL said it is not a party to the dispute and our bilateral ties with Qatar remain. 

No airspace restrictions have been declared so far. However, PAL is awaiting guidance from the Department of Foreign Affairs due to the diplomatic and political nature of the issue.

Cebu Pacific earlier announced that it will stop flights to Kuwait, Qatar, and Riyadh in Saudi Arabia because of increased competition in these routes.

Cebu Pacific spokesperson Charo Lagamon said the carrier stopped selling tickets to Doha last May 24.

According to a survey released last year by the Philippine Statistics Authority, there were 592,000 Filipinos working in Saudi Arabia, 372,000 in the UAE, and 132,000 in Qatar.

— with reports from Reuters



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