Posts Tagged ‘Qatari flights’

Qatar tactics seen as failure as crisis enters third month

August 6, 2017

Instead of addressing Quartet concerns, Doha chose instead to protest against the boycott at international organisations

Image Credit: REUTERS
A man walks on the corniche in Doha, Qatar.
Published: 17:23 August 6, 2017Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: The Qatari crisis has entered its third month, but the boycott of Doha imposed by the Arab quartet is set to continue because the Qatari regime fails to comply with their 13 demands and broader UN principles to combat terrorism and stop interference in other countries’ affairs, analysts say.

Although they are ready for talks with Doha, the Arab quartet is fully prepared to confront Qatari intrasigience for the long haul. The situation seems to be heading for a protracted crisis.

The four countries have expressed they are ready for dialogue with Qatar if it declares its “sincere willingness” to stop funding terrorism and extremism, halt interference in other countries’ foreign affairs, and respond to the 13 demands.

On June 5, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt severed their diplomatic relations with Qatar and closed their airspace and ports to Qatar-registered planes and ships over accusations it was supporting terrorist and extremist groups.

Instead of seriously addressing concerns of the Arab quartet and thus returning to the GCC fold, Doha opted to manoeuvre by protesting against the boycott at international organisations.

First by claiming the quartet’s move was a “blockade”. But the Arab quartet refuted Doha’s claims that a “blockade” has been imposed on Qatar by GCC countries, arguing that it was a boycott in keeping with international laws and motivated by the need to protect their national security.

Following the Manama meeting, Shaikh Abdulla Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, UAE Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, said all measures taken by four states were within the jurisdiction of international law and “essential to deter the scourge of terrorism which affected stability of other countries.”

Earlier, Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Adel Al Jubeir said in Washington after a meeting with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson there is no blockade of Qatar.

“The ports are open, the airports are open … What we have done is we have denied them use of our airspace, and this is our sovereign right. The limitation on the use of Saudi airspace is only limited to Qatar Airways or Qatari-owned aircraft, not anybody else … Qatar’s seaports were open,” Al Jubeir said.

In another failed attempt to politicise the Haj pilgrimage, Qatar accused Saudi Arabia of stopping its citizens from attending the Haj, a false claim that Riyadh called a “declaration of war”.

Qatar took its complaint to the UN special rapporteur, prompting an angry response from the Saudi Foreign Minister.

Despite the deepening row, Saudi Arabia says Qataris are welcome to attend the Haj, which is due to begin this month.

Qatar has also claimed the boycotting countries were in violation of the air travel treaty because they blocked Qatari flights from their airspace, a charge negated by the UN’s aviation authority, the International Civil Aviation Authority.

Saudi Arabia has also provided emergency corridors for Qatar through their airspace.

Desperate to lift the boycott, Qatar also launched a legal process at the World Trade Organisation, requesting consultations with the three Gulf countries and triggering a 60-day deadline for them to settle the complaint or face litigation at the WTO and potential retaliatory trade sanctions.

The wide-ranging legal complaint at the Geneva-based body is set to fail as the economic sanctions imposed on Qatar by the three fellow Gulf states do not violate WTO agreements, the Quartet has said.

Qatar has also accused Egypt of misusing its position on the UN Security Council, but Cairo denied the allegation in a letter to the council on Thursday, and accused Qatar of supporting terrorist groups financially and ideologically in Syria, Iraq and Libya.

Dr. Ayman Salama, a member of the Egyptian Council for Foreign Affairs and professor of international law at Cairo University, believes the boycott and the economic sanctions by the Arab quartet is completely legal that cannot be challenged, especially as Qatar has repeatedly undermined their national security.

“The measures taken by the Arab quartet are sovereign steps to protect the security and the safety of their countries,” Dr Salama told Gulf News.

Qatar’s public relations campaigns have also been dismal failures in making the right impression among Americans, as the Arab News/YouGov poll shows.

Half of respondents said they do not know enough about the Gulf state to pass judgement.

Yet, the next highest response rate — at some 34 per cent — reflects those whom associate Qatar with terror financing.

The poll also shows that most Americans, at 63 per cent, recognise Al Jazeera as a news source, but they do not believe that the network reflects professional journalism standards, which means many Americans do not trust Al Jazeera’s reporting.

http://gulfnews.com/news/gulf/qatar/qatar-tactics-seen-as-failure-as-crisis-enters-third-month-1.2069776

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Qatar ‘extremely comfortable’ despite sanctions, markets stabilize — Iran and Morocco send food

June 13, 2017

Reuters

Tue Jun 13, 2017 | 3:19am EDT

By John Davison and Andrew Torchia | DOHA/DUBAI
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Qatar’s financial markets stabilized on Monday after a week of losses as the government showed it could keep the economy running in the face of sanctions by its neighbors.

The finance minister of the world’s richest country per capita played down the economic toll of the confrontation, and said the government was “extremely comfortable” with its financial position, with the resources to endure the pressure.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt cut diplomatic and transport ties with Qatar a week ago, accusing it of fomenting regional unrest, supporting terrorism and getting too close to Iran, all of which Doha denies.

The biggest diplomatic rift in years among the rich states of the Gulf has disrupted Qatar’s imports of food and other materials and caused some foreign banks to scale back business.

On Monday, it was becoming clear that Qatar could keep the economic damage from becoming critical. Some of its food factories were working extra shifts to process imports from nations outside the Gulf, such as Brazil. Shipping lines have re-routed container traffic via Oman instead of the UAE.

Such measures may involve delays and raise costs for Qatar; on Monday Fitch put Qatar’s AA credit rating on Rating Watch Negative, saying a sustained crisis could hurt its credit outlook. But they are unlikely to prevent the economy from functioning in any fundamental way, economists say.

The diplomatic confrontation has become a major test for the United States, which is closely allied to the countries on both sides. Qatar hosts the Middle East headquarters for U.S. air forces; Bahrain hosts the main base for the U.S. Navy.

Image result for food processing, Qatar, photos

As the world’s leading exporter of liquefied natural gas, Qatar’s wealth has allowed it to crown its small Gulf peninsula with skyscrapers. It has also given the government the means to take an outsized role in regional affairs, sponsoring factions in revolts and civil wars and brokering peace deals across the Middle East. Several neighbors have been furious for years.

“STARVE THE BEAST”

In Washington, U.S. President Donald Trump, who has strongly backed the countries imposing sanctions on Qatar despite a more neutral stance taken by the State Department and Pentagon, said the measures were helping to stop terrorism funding.

A logo of Qatar Airways is seen at Hamad International Airport in Doha, Qatar June 12, 2017. REUTERS/Naseem Zeitoon

“One of the big things that we did and you are seeing it now is Qatar and all of the things that are actually going on in a very positive fashion. We are stopping the funding of terrorism,” he said during a photo call with cabinet officials. “We are going to starve the beast.”

Image may contain: one or more people, indoor and food

Qatari Food companies step in to fill the void.  Workers work in a meat processing plant in Doha, Qatar, June 10, 2017. REUTERS/Naseem Zeitoon

Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdulrahman al-Thani told a news conference in France that Qatar “still had no clue” why the nations cut ties. He denied that Qatar supported groups like the Muslim Brotherhood that its neighbors oppose, or had warm ties with their enemy Iran.

So far, the measures do not seem to have caused a serious shortages of supplies in shops. Some people have even joked about being “blockaded” inside the world’s richest country: a Twitter page called “Doha under siege” pokes fun at the prospect of readying “escape yachts”, stocking up on caviar and trading Rolex watches for espresso.

But an economic downturn could have more dire consequences for the vast majority of Qatar’s 2.7 million residents, who are not citizens but foreign workers. Migrant laborers make up 90 percent of Qatar’s population, mostly unskilled and dependent on construction projects such as building stadiums for the 2022 soccer World Cup.

In an interview with CNBC television — one of the first public appearances by a Qatari economic policy maker since the crisis erupted — Finance Minister Ali Sherif al-Emadi said the government was “extremely comfortable with our positions, our investments and liquidity in our systems”.

The energy sector and economy are essentially operating as normal and no serious impact has been felt on supplies of food or other goods. Qatar can import goods from Turkey, the Far East or Europe and will respond to the crisis by diversifying its economy even more, he told CNBC.

“Our reserves and investment funds are more than 250 percent of gross domestic product, so I don’t think there is any reason that people need to be concerned about what’s happening or any speculation on the Qatari riyal.”

Jason Tuvey, a Middle East economist at London-based Capital Economics, said that as long as the other Gulf countries did not interfere with Qatar’s gas exports, the tiny state should be able to carry on without a serious recession.

“It seems Qatar would be able to weather quite a prolonged period of sanctions,” he said, adding that economic growth, fueled by government spending and infrastructure projects, was “highly unlikely to grind to halt”.

Qatar, like other Gulf states, has tried to diversify from oil and gas. The sanctions have hurt one of its highest-profile enterprises, fast-growing airline Qatar Airways, which says it has been cut it off from 18 of its destinations.

“It is actually a travesty of civilized behavior to close airline offices. Airlines offices are not political arms,” CEO Akbar Al Baker told CNN. “We were sealed as if it was a criminal organization. We were not allowed to give refunds to our passengers.”

He added that he was “extremely disappointed” in Trump. Washington “should be the leader trying to break this blockade and not sitting and watching what’s going on and putting fuel on (the) fire.”

UNDERPINNED BY WEALTH FUND

Qatar’s riyal currency, pegged at 3.64 to the U.S. dollar, was under pressure last week as banks reacted nervously to the diplomatic rift. On Monday, the currency came off last week’s lows in the spot QAR= and offshore forwards markets QAR1Y=W.

Bankers said the central bank, which has $34.5 billion of net foreign reserves backed by an estimated hundreds of billions of dollars of assets in Doha’s sovereign wealth fund, was supplying enough dollars to keep exchange rates under control.

The cost of insuring Qatar’s sovereign debt against default QAGV5YUSAC=MG fell back for the first time in a week. Yields on Doha’s international bonds XS140578215=TE dropped almost 10 basis points and the stock market .QSI stabilized after sliding 8.7 percent in the past week.

Tuvey said the main threat to the economy was that Qatari banks could find it much harder to obtain wholesale funding from other banks to sustain growth in their loan portfolios. However, if the situation becomes critical, the Qatari government can liquidate some of its overseas assets to fund its banks, as Saudi Arabia did last year when its banks faced a squeeze.

Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund has major stakes in top Western companies such as Credit Suisse (CSGN.S). Asked by CNBC whether it might now sell some of those stakes to raise money, Emadi indicated this was not on the cards for now.

Qatar’s normally bustling border with Saudi Arabia was deserted on Monday. Soldiers in an armored pick-up truck looked out over barbed-wire at sprawling dustland separating Qatar from Saudi Arabia. Indian migrants who work at the border in green uniforms lay on inspection platforms sheltering from the sun.

Normally, thousands of passengers and hundreds of trucks from Saudi Arabia pass through the crossing each day, bringing fruit and vegetables, as well as construction materials.

(Additional reporting by Tom Finn and Ibrahim Saber at the Abu Samra border crossing and Steve Holland in Washington; Editing by Peter Graff and Peter Millership, Larry King)

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Reuters

Tue Jun 13, 2017 | 3:19am EDT

Morocco says will send food to Qatar after Gulf states cut ties

Morocco said it would send plane-loads of food to Qatar to boost supplies there after Gulf Arab states cut diplomatic and economic ties with Doha.

Qatar, which imported 80 percent of its food from bigger Gulf Arab neighbors before the diplomatic shutdown, has also been talking to Iran and Turkey to secure food and water.

“This decision was made in conformity with Islamic precepts that call for solidarity and mutual aid between Muslim people, notably during this holy month of Ramadan,” the Moroccan foreign ministry statement said on Monday.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain accuse Qatar of supporting militants – an allegation dismissed by Doha.

On Sunday, Morocco said it would remain neutral in the dispute, offering to mediate between the Gulf countries, which are all close allies to the North African kingdom.

Qatar’s finance minister said on Monday the world’s richest country per capita has the resources to endure and played down the economic toll of the confrontation.

(Reporting by Samia Errazzouki; Editing by Patrick Markey and Andrew Heavens)

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Gulf air embargo only applies to Qatari companies, says UAE

June 13, 2017

AFP, France 24 and Reuters

© Frederic Brown, AFP | File photo taken on March 21, 2017 shows a Qatar Airways aircraft coming in for a landing at Los Angeles International Airport.

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2017-06-13

The air embargo imposed on Qatar only applies to airlines from Qatar or registered there, the United Arab Emirates Civil Aviation Authority said Tuesday.

Saudi Arabia and Bahrain issued identical statements on the air embargo, which came into effect when Riyadh, Abu Dhabi and Manama broke off relations with Qatar on June 5, accusing it of supporting “terrorism”.

The embargo bans “all Qatari aviation companies and aircraft registered in the state of Qatar” from landing or flying through the airspace of the Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, according to the statements published by the national agencies of the three countries.

The ban does not apply to aviation companies and aircraft not registered in Qatar and the three neighbouring countries, and even those which wish to cross their airspace to and from Qatar, they said.

The three countries’ aviation bodies also said non-Qatari private and chartered flights from Qatar must submit requests to them at least 24 hours before crossing the airspace.

The request should include a list of names and nationalities of crews and passengers, and the cargo carried by the aircraft, they said.

Qatar asks UN body to rule the ban illegal

On Monday, Qatar Airways called on the UN’s aviation body, the International Civil Aviation Organization, to declare the Gulf boycott illegal and a violation of a 1944 convention on international air transport, also called the Chicago Convention.

Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker said the move by Saudi Arabia and its allies was an “illegal blockade”.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain are among several countries which last week announced the suspension of all ties to Qatar, over what they claim is the state’s support for extremist groups and its political proximity to Shiite Iran.

QATAR’S ISOLATION IS A REGIONAL POWER PLAY

Riyadh has insisted that closing its airspace to Qatari flights was within its sovereign rights to protect its citizens from any threat.

Responding to the Qatari appeal, the UAE General Aviation Authority said it is fully committed to the Chicago Convention, but the state reserves the sovereign right under international law to take any precautionary measures to protect its national security if necessary, according to UAE state news agency WAM.

Qatar has denied the allegations and has vowed to fight the air and sea blockades in international forums.

Furthermore, international human rights groups such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have also slammed the Gulf states of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE for “toying” with the lives of thousands of ordinary citizens affected by the blockade.

The blockade is widely seen as a way to punish Qatar for its good relations with Tehran, as part of the larger struggle between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Human rights of potentially thousands of people in Gulf affected by steps imposed after political dispute with Qatar http://amn.st/60108lv6O 

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, REUTERS)

Related:

Saudi Arabia Says Qatar Airspace Closure to Protect Citizens From Threats

June 13, 2017

DUBAI — Saudi Arabia’s aviation body said on Tuesday that closing its airspace to flights from Qatar was within its sovereign rights to protect its citizens from any threat.

The Saudi comments were in reaction to remarks by Qatar Airway’s chief executive that the kingdom, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain were violating international law by shutting out Qatari flights.

Image result for Qatar Airways, photos

CEO of Qatar Airways Akbar Al Baker. (AFP/Getty Images)

The airspace closure was within its sovereign right to protect the country and its citizens from anything it sees as a threat and as a precautionary measure, Saudi Arabia’s General Authority of Civil Aviation said in a statement published by the Saudi Press Agency.

Similar statements were also issued by the UAE and Bahraini aviation authorities after a CNN interview of Chief Executive of Qatar Airways, Akbar Al Baker, who criticized the three Arab countries for the airspace closure.

Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt cut diplomatic and transport ties with Qatar a week ago, accusing it of fomenting regional unrest, supporting terrorism and getting too close to Iran, all of which Doha denies.

Al Baker had appealed to the International Civil Aviation Organization, a U.N. agency which administers the Chicago convention that guarantees civil overflights to declare the airspace closure as illegal.

The UAE General Aviation Authority said it is fully committed to the Chicago convention, but the state reserves the sovereign right under international law to take any precautionary measures to protect its national security if necessary, according to UAE state news agency WAM.

The three countries’ aviation bodies also said non-Qatari private and chartered flights from Qatar must submit requests to them at least 24 hours before crossing the airspace.

The request should include a list of names and nationalities of crews and passengers, and the cargo carried by the aircraft, they said.

(Reporting by Celine Aswad and Saeed Azhar; Editing by Christian Schmollinger)

Qatar-Gulf crisis threatens Qatar Airways transit business

June 12, 2017

AFP

© AFP/File / by Ali Khalil | Qatari planes are now using Iran’s airspace to get to Europe and skirting the southeastern tip of the Arabian Peninsula to avoid Saudi territory

DUBAI (AFP) – Qatar Airways has made Doha a global hub in just a few years, but barring it from Gulf states’ airspace threatens its position as a major transcontinental carrier, experts say.Along with its Gulf peers — Dubai’s Emirates Airlines and Abu Dhabi’s Etihad — Qatar’s national carrier has captured a sizable portion of transit travel, capitalising on the Gulf’s central geographic location.

But political differences between Qatar and neighbouring Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, as well as Egypt, exploded last week into a full-blown regional crisis, including severing air links.

The measures meant cancelling dozens of daily flights by Qatar Airways and carriers from those countries, and also mean Qatari aircraft have to make long diversions, mainly around Bahrain and the vast airspace of Saudi Arabia.

“The impact is already bad because it has driven up flight times and therefore costs. As the airspace tightens, the problem grows much worse,” said aviation analyst Addison Schonland from the US-based AirInsight.

“Operationally, this is a constraint for the airline that is almost certainly now seeing its profits cut deeply,” he added.

Qatar is almost completely encircled by Bahraini airspace that covers a large part of Gulf waters, and its planes usually cross Saudi airspace on their way to the rest of the Middle East, Africa and South America.

Instead, Qatari planes are now using Iran’s airspace to get to Europe and skirting the southeastern tip of the Arabian Peninsula to avoid Saudi territory.

– Flight times –

The flight time for a Qatar Airways trip to Sao Paulo in Brazil, for example, has increased by around two hours, according to flight detecting websites.

Flights to North Africa are now travelling over Iran and Turkey towards the Mediterranean, instead of flying more directly over Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

However, flights to Europe appear largely unaffected as they continue to use the Iran route, with a just small diversion to avoid Bahraini airspace.

The Islamic republic has opened its airspace to around 100 more Qatari flights daily, increasing Iranian air traffic by 17 percent.

“For the future, Qatar flights’ routes and fuel burn will be increased as a result of this,” said aviation analyst Kyle Bailey.

Longer routes will bring passenger numbers down, argued Schonland.

“Future long-haul reservations will come down, because even with the high service and excellent amenities, who wants to sit for longer on an airplane?” he said.

About 90 percent of Qatar Airways traffic through Doha is transit, according to a report by CAPA Centre for Aviation.

Saudi Arabia and the UAE represent the two largest markets for Qatar Airways, said Bailey.

Losing these “will no doubt be devastating to the carrier’s financial bottom line, wiping out about 30 percent of revenue,” he said.

Qatar Airways is also the largest foreign carrier operating in the UAE, and the fifth overall after the country’s own airlines, according to the CAPA report.

– Ticket prices –

Part of this transit traffic is likely to be scooped up by Qatar Airways’ regional competitors Emirates and Etihad, experts say.

“No question about it. Especially Emirates because they have the A380 (superjumbo) capacity to catch the traffic without even a hiccup,” said Schonland.

“There is no doubt that Emirates and Etihad would surely be reaping the benefits… In the long term, the increased passenger loads on the other carriers may push up demand causing ticket prices to go up on the other carriers,” said Bailey.

The two UAE carriers have wide global networks, and together with Qatar Airways have drawn the ire of European and US legacy carriers who accused them of benefiting from state subsidies to expand into their traditional markets.

But Emirates and Etihad, as well as other carriers from countries involved such as the UAE’s flydubai and Air Arabia, will also lose out with the suspension of their Doha routes.

“There can be few winners” from the ban, according to the CAPA analysis.

Contrary to the argument that Emirates and Etihad might boost their numbers of transit passengers, CAPA argued that the ban affects the reputation of Gulf aviation in general.

“The nuances of the ban are too particular for the public to understand, but the broader shadow it creates spreads widely,” it said.

“Amidst growing security concerns and the existing laptop ban, passengers are unlikely to dig in to the reason for this ban. Gulf aviation becomes less attractive for all,” it added.

The United States and Britain banned laptop and tablet computers on flights from certain Middle Eastern and Turkish airports in March for security reasons.

by Ali Khalil

© 2017 AFP