Global aviation bodies slam airspace blockade of Qatar

February 6, 2019

Global aviation bodies like Centre for Aviation (CAPA), the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and Mobility and Transport of European Commission have slammed airspace blocked imposed on Qatar by neighbouring countries.
Delivering a speech on the first day of the CAPA Qatar Aviation, Aeropolitical and Regulatory Summit in Doha, IATA Director General and CEO Alexandre de Juniac said the blocking of airspace for Qatari Airways flights by Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Bahrain was a blatant violation of 1944 Chicago Convention overseen by International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) to lay the foundation for the standards and procedures for peaceful global air navigation.
Continuation of the unjust blockade for the last so many months, he said, raises questions on the relevance of ICAO.
Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive Officer Akbar al Baker, who is also the current chairman of the IATA board of governors, said delay on part of ICAO in resolving the crisis was not fair.
While it is high time that ICAO should term the blockade illegal, he said, necessary changes in the age-old international aviation agreements are required to deal with such situation on a priority basis.
Despite the blockade, he said, “Qatar Airways has demonstrated tremendous resilience in the face of the blockade, and our resilience as an airline is reflective of that of Qatar as a whole. Rather than falling on our knees, we have transformed the blockade into an opportunity to innovate and diversify.”
“While my country may be small in size, we are big in ambition. Qatar Airways opened 25 new destinations in 2018, despite the conditions of the blockade, bringing the number of its aircraft to 230, as well as 60 private destinations for air cargo,” he said.
Highlighting the airline’s achievement during the ongoing blockade, he said, Qatar Airways was the first carrier to receive the A350-1000 Airbus.
“We are also working on strategies to invest in the world’s most powerful airlines,” he said.
“We have not retrenched even a single staff ever since the blockade has been imposed on us,” he said.
Terming the ongoing blockade as major violation of international aviation convention, CAPA Executive Chairman Peter Harbison said, “This is an extremely important time in the evolution of aviation regulation. As the world seemingly drifts towards greater conflict in trade internationally, and pressures grow on the airline industry to become more restrictive in terms of market access, it is important to establish a reference point to address future directions.”
European Commission Mobility and Transport Director General Henrik Hololei said connectivity between Qatar and the rest of the world must be preserved and re-established.
“This blockade is unprecedented and in direct contradiction to the international conventions. Aviation is not a political body,” he said.
Earlier, the first day of the CAPA Qatar Aviation, Aeropolitical and Regulatory Summit kicked off under the patronage of Minister of Transport and Communications HE Jassim bin Saif al Sulaiti. Qatar Civil Aviation Authority President Abdulla bin Nasser Turki al Subaey also attended the event along with ambassadors, officials, and senior executives from the aviation industry.
To be held for the first in the Middle East, the two-day CAPA Qatar summit features more than 30 expert speakers from across the airline, legal and government sectors discussing the latest developments in international aviation regulation, both within the Gulf region and globally.