The United Arab Emirates on Monday asked foreign airlines flying to or from Qatar to seek “prior approval” of its safety and security regulator, the General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA), before using the Emirates airspace. This order is expected to affect operations of Indian carriers flying from India to Doha, airline industry sources said.
Currently, Jet Airways, Air India Express and IndiGo are among the Indian carriers flying to Doha directly. These carriers may be required to seek prior approval of the GCAA if they use the UAE airspace to fly to Doha. UAE, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Egypt on Monday said they will cut ties with Qatar and withdraw their diplomatic staff from Qatar over the latter’s support for Islamist groups.
“We have been asked to sent a list of all the flights that go to Doha using the UAE airspace. We are in the process of sending those details to the UAE regulator after which a clearer picture will emerge on the impact of these restrictions on our airline operations,” said an airline industry official not asking to be named.
A total of 7.31 lakh passengers flew to and from Qatar to India during January-March 2017, as per the data from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation. A total of 5.26 lakh passengers flew in and out of India via Qatar Airways during January-March 2017, the data showed.
Another industry official said the diplomatic impasse in the Gulf region could end up benefiting the Indian carriers as passengers are expected to prefer using Indian carriers to fly to and from Doha and onward rather than using Qatar Airways.
“Air India benefited in terms of getting higher number of passengers after the US imposed ban on laptops and other electronic items on flights to the US from 10 countries including Dubai, Doha, Abu Dhabi among others. The boycott of Qatar by other Gulf countries could also lead to similar dislocation, which will benefit Indian carriers,” the official said.
Many airlines including Emirates have announced suspension of their flights to and from Doha, starting from June 6 until further notice. Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways has said it will suspend all flights to-and-from Doha from June 5 till further notice.