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Qatar Airways Likely To Get Access To New Flight Routes

Photo: Qatar Airways

Qatar Airways expects to have the access to three contingency routes over international water in early August, after the issue was discussed at an UN-led meeting.

In the meeting, the UN aviation agency’s governing council in Montreal discussed contingency routes that was planned as part of a preliminary agreement reached earlier this month, but yet to be opened to Qatar-registered planes.

Qatar complained to the ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organisation), after it was denied to use the airspace of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt and the UAE.

Qatar Airways was then forced to take longer and more expensive routes, which prompted Doha to push for international corridors over Gulf waters currently managed by the UAE.

All the member-states were asked by the ICAO to comply with the 1944 Chicago Convention on International Civil Aviation and its addendums.

Jassim bin Saif Al Sulaiti, Qatar’s transport minister, told that Doha wanted all the states to adhere to the Chicago agreement.

“The organisation insisted on using the word ‘adhere’ because there was a violation of international safety and security. This is what the international community and the states represented think,” he said.

Keith Mackey, an aviation consultant, told Al Jazeera that the ICAO rules on standards by consensus and does not have regulatory powers.

“ICAO can’t force these countries to allow Qatar or any other airline to fly over their airspace. They have to do it with permission and it’s really a political problem and not a technical problem,” he said.

“ICAO prefers to deal with technical problems and the statements they made today were unusual; ICAO doesn’t usually go so far as to request member states to follow international protocol, so that may be a positive step in the right direction,” added Mackey.

The ICAO is not entitled to impose rules on states, but regulators from its 191-member countries always adopt and enforce the standards it sets for international aviation.

Al Jazeera’s Daniel Lak, reporting from Montreal, said that the action at the ICAO was one among the many steps that Qatar is taking to ease the crisis.

“Qatar also says it will return to ICAO after the organisation’s summer break to press again for a complete lifting of the blockade and to continue with its case that airspace restrictions are dangerous and illegal,” said Lak.

Meanwhile, Qatar has also filed a wide-ranging legal complaint at the World Trade Organization to challenge the trade boycott.

Saudi state news agency SPA had reported that the Saudi aviation authority (GACA) had already agreed to nine emergency air corridors identified under ICAO supervision.

However, Qatar’s transport and communications ministry and its aviation authority denied the four countries had taken such a decision. Transport Minister Al Sulaiti, said that the siege countries had violated the international agreement.

“These countries have used this right arbitrarily and imposed it on aircraft registered only in Qatar,” Al Sulaiti said.

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