Qatar Airways weighs up flight route options amid conflicting reports about whether Doha’s Gulf rivals have re-opened their airspace to Qatar-licensed aircraft.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) General Civil Aviation Authority has denied reports that it opened airspace to Qatar-registered aircraft in a statement issued on Wednesday.
The authority said it had allowed Qatari aircraft to use international airspace managed by the UAE, not the Emirates’ own airspace.
The GCAA’s latest statement follows reports on Tuesday that the UAE and Bahrain had agreed to open some of their airspace to Qatari aircraft.
Meanwhile, Qatar’s national airline Qatar Airways said on Wednesday that it was considering its options now that some airspace managed by its rival Gulf neighbours and Egypt had been opened up.
The airline’s chief executive Akbar al-Baker told reporters in Doha that his company was looking at “the flexibility and benefit” of one “very short route”. He added that another route off the Egyptian coast was “useless” to the airline’s requirements.
The UAE, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Egypt closed airspace to Qatari aircraft in June as part of a blockade against Doha.
The economic action has put Qatar Airways in a difficult position having to take longer, more expensive routes to destinations.
The anti-Qatar bloc accuse Doha of supporting terror in the Middle East – a charge which Qatar has vehemently denied.
Opening up to the world
Qatar also announced on Wednesday that it will allow visa-free entry for citizens of 80 countries to encourage air transport and tourism amid the crisis.
Nationals of 33 countries will be granted stay for 180 days on arrival and the other 47 for up to 30 days.
“The visa exemption scheme will make Qatar the most open country in the region,” Hassan al-Ibrahim, chief tourism development officer at Qatar Tourism Authority said at a press conference in Doha.