Saudi allocates emergency routes in Qatar spat

Saudi Arabia’s aviation authorities have agreed on emergency air traffic corridors for Qatari airlines in the event that regional airports are closed after securing the approval of the United Arab Emirates, the Arab Republic of Egypt and the Kingdom of Bahrain.

Qatar Airways is currently unable to fly over those four states after they cut economic and diplomatic ties over Doha’s alleged support for terrorism – a claim denied by Qatari officials.

The General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) of Saudi Arabia announced the allocation stating: “This procedure confirms our commitment to the safety of international air navigation, and in such circumstances it is customary to agree on alternative air emergency corridors over the high seas under our management to facilitate navigation and enhance air safety. This procedure is under the umbrella of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) that coordinates and manages such agreements.” 

The moves follows media reports that ICAO considered the issue in an extraordinary session on Monday following a request by Qatar to intervene following the airspace ban. The Montreal-based aviation agency also accepted a working paper from the four Arab states that cut ties with Qatar who collectively said it would allow Qatari aircraft to use air corridors in emergencies.

According to the Saudi authority, nine corridors have been identified, including one corridor in international airspace over the Mediterranean Sea, which is managed by the Egyptian air navigation service provider NANSC. It will start in August.

Saudi authorities said this action was being taken to preserve primarily the airspace security and safety while supporting the implementation of the Kingdom’s decision to sever diplomatic and consular relations with Qatar, including preventing Qatar Airways from using its airspace

“All these corridors have been coordinated with neighboring countries under the umbrella of ICAO as part of the Air Navigation Safety Support Program,” it stated

Read No end in sight for airspace impact of Qatar rift

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