There’s been a lot going on in the last couple of days regarding Qatar – and it’s a lot to take in.
Tensions have long been high among the leaders of the Gulf states, what with Qatar’s friendly relationship with Iran, the two of whom happen to share the world’s biggest gas field. There’s a lot of details in play, though most seem to stem on the accusation of Qatar’s support of extremist groups. Well, things just got Facebook official: Today, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Yemen,the Maldives (update: 6/6/2017:) and now Libya announced that they have cut diplomatic ties with Qatar. UAE’s national carrier Etihad Airways (EY) and Dubai-based Emirates Airlines (EK) have announced their suspension of flights to Qatar effective Tuesday, June 6, among others. The following airlines have announced cancellation of flights to between the impacted airports. Passengers impacted by the change will be offered a full refund or be rerouted through other cities.
- Etihad – The last Abu Dhabi (AUH) – Doha (DOH) flights will operate until evening of June 5.
- Emirates – Dubai (DXB) – DOH will cease as of June 6.
- Gulf Air – Bahrain (BAH) to DOH will no longer operate as of June 6.
- Saudia – Cancellation of all flights to and from Doha as of June 5.
- Qatar – Suspension of Flights to Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt and Kingdom of Bahrain.
- Budget carriers FlyDubai and Air Arabia have also cancelled routes to and from Doha.
The Gulf Cooperation Council is a political and economic union of which Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates are all member states. Kuwait and Oman are the only remaining members that have not cut their ties with Qatar.
It’ll be interesting to see how this unfolds. Qatar has long been in the spotlight (and not in a good way) – most recently as it ramps up for the 2022 World Cup. Since the announcement, there’s been lots of chatter about the fairness of Qatar’s winning bid, coupled with the country’s anti-homosexuality laws that have caused global uproar. Did we mention that allegations of World Cup migrant worker misconduct?
While the rift is unlikely to cause Qatar Airways (QR) any immediate financial loss, continued instability would worsen the situation for Qatar – and long-term, the airline. As it is, Moody’s downgraded their credit rating from Aa2 to Aa3. This type of uncertainty would most certainly impact tourism – like the World Cup, which they’re reported to invest $20 billion on by 2022. With cancelled flights between the
six seven nations – this is just the beginning of a drop in tourism. It’s to be seen what other countries (if any) will follow suite in cutting ties with Qatar.
Closing land, sea, and airports aren’t the only thing impacted – Egypt and Saudi Arabia have also closed off their airspace to Qatari planes – meaning potentially (slightly) longer flights for Qatar Airlines flights headed west.
While the suspension of the flights between Qatar and their neighbors is inconvenient, if these countries are cutting diplomatic ties, Qatari nationals will likely have to leave the
67 nations (some sooner than others), and the same in reverse. For citizens of these countries, they essentially won’t have any business being in Qatar. It does however cause disruption for say, business travelers from other nations. Couple this with the electronics ban to 10 airports in this region – 6 of which are impacted by this rift – things in the Gulf coast look like they’re headed in a downward spiral.
If you’ve been impacted by the suspension, be sure to contact the airline immediately to see what options make sense for you.