- REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol
On Monday, the governments of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt, and the United Arab Emirates severed all diplomatic ties with Qatar.
As a result, the four nations have cut off all air, land, and sea transports links to Qatar.
This includes a blockade to prevent Qatar Airways flights and all Qatari-registered aircraft from entering their airspace.
Unfortunately for Qatar Airways, Saudi Arabia is its largest market and the UAE is not far behind. In fact, Qatar Airways has the largest presence of any foreign carrier in Saudi Arabia with more than 50 flights per day.
This has resulted in major headaches for the Doha, Qatar-based airline. Its Group CEO, Akbar Al Baker, was forced to rush home from the International Air Transport Association Annual General Meeting in Cancun, Mexico to attend to the matter.
On Tuesday, Qatar Airways announced that it has chartered three flights to evacuate passengers stranded in Saudi Arabia. The chartered flights will take passengers from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia to Muscat, Oman where Qatar Airways aircraft will then connect the passengers to Doha.
In a statement to Business Insider, Qatar Airways wrote:
“Qatar Airways operations are running as normal with no disruptions to flights with the exception of those to the four countries Qatar Airways has been restricted to fly to. In response to these restrictions Qatar Airways has arranged for three charter flights departing Jeddah today at 16:00, 22:00, and 23:00 local time, to Muscat in order to assist all Qatar Airways passengers in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. We encourage all Qatari passengers stranded to make their way to King Abdulaziz International Airport to avail of these three flights today, Tuesday 6th June. Full details of these charter flights are available on Qatar Airways Travel Alert page. All affected passengers in Doha on route to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia have been assisted with alternative onward travel arrangements. At Qatar Airways, our passengers remain our utmost priority and we will continue to ensure they have a seamless journey to their final destinations.”
The four governments accuse Qatar of destabilizing the region’s security by supporting the Muslim Brotherhood, ISIS, and Iran.
In a statement, the Saudi government wrote:
“Since 1995, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and its brothers have made strenuous and continued efforts to urge the authorities in Doha to abide by its commitments and agreements, yet, they have repeatedly violated their international obligations and the agreements they signed … to cease the hostilities against the Kingdom and stand against terrorist groups.”
Saudi Arabia and the UAE have given Qatari citizens 14 days, starting on June 5, 2017, to leave their respective countries.