Wow: The UAE Is Now Banning Non-Qatari Planes From Their Airspace As Well

Filed Under: Qatar

On Monday we learned that several countries cut ties with Qatar, including nearby Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE. The implications of this are far-reaching, though since this is a travel blog, I’ve been focusing on the impact it has on aviation.

Qatar Airways is no longer allowed to fly to the UAE, Saudi Arabia, etc., and those countries have blocked off their airspace to Qatar Airways. That means flights have to reroute, and in some cases it’s fairly significant. For example, Qatar Airways had to route some of their Doha to Sao Paulo flights via Athens due to these new restrictions.

When this move was first announced, it didn’t impact other airlines flying to/from Doha. However, the General Civil Aviation Authority of the UAE has just taken this to the next level, at least as far as aviation policy goes. It has been announced that until further notice, UAE airspace is closed to all flights operating to or from Doha, including flights not operated by Qatar Airways.

For example, per FlightAware, here’s the route for Oman Air’s flight from Muscat to Doha before the change was implemented:

And here’s the route after it was implemented:

So while this issue was previously something between Qatar and the countries that cut ties with them, the aviation implications of this now involve other countries as well. Now, only UAE airspace is blocked off (I don’t believe Saudi Arabia has put a similar restriction in place), so this shouldn’t require too much of a detour, since the country isn’t that big.

However, politically it’s an interesting move. I don’t think anyone would argue there’s a safety risk of a flight that’s Doha bound and operated by a non-Qatari plane, so clearly the UAE is trying to send a message here.

It’ll be interesting to see if this policy spreads, and if we see other countries invoke reciprocal policies (“if the UAE is blocking us from their airspace, we’ll block them from our airspace”).

  1. Would be interesting if Qatar bans Emirati aircrafts from their airspace territory. How many Emirates & Etihad flights bound for South, Southeast Asia and Australia are going to be impacted? Also what about Emirates’ nonstop flight to Auckland? They might have to revert back to 77L then..

  2. This has got to violate some sort of international treaty.

    I’d love to see France or Canada ban Emirates in reciprocity. It seems to me that the UAE has more to lose than anyone else playing airspace chicken.

  3. UAE already advised operators to Qatar that they would need to revalidate all UAE overflight permits if any of their fleet flew to Qatar after 06JUN17, so this is not surprising.

  4. Imagine if Iran banned UAE registered planes from its airspace. That would probabaly be enough to stop the Qatar ban by the UAE at least.

  5. I think it’s quite clear now that UAE are only interested in power, they just want complete control over what Qatar does (like they and Saudi used to have in the past)
    Qatar has not banned anything in retaliation, but if they wanted to (and don’t mind the huge affect on the economy) they could just turn the gas tap off and the UAE would be f***ed! The UAE needs Qatar more than Qatar need the UAE.

  6. Instead of safety, I would inclined to suspect the reason are: “the friend of my enemy, is also my enemy”. And this is more than politics, since Arab Saudi has rejected qataris applying for visa for umrah (pilgrimage) in ramadhan month (as informed by Muslim Travel Girl in her blog.

  7. Qatar Airways are definitevly handling the situation rather oddly on their side though..

    I have my flights with Qatar Airways through Doha to Dubai booked for next Saturday since a few weeks back and now called Amex Travel to reconfirm.
    Apparently Qatar Airways are working on a 72-hour cycle so there are no free cancellations of affected flights until Wednesday next week (ie the 72 hours before-timline) which is quite tight.

    While I do understand the situation QR are in, it’s a not very customer centric approach…

  8. I think If UAE is been So Mean, Oman, Qatar,Iran Should Block UAE from entering their aerospace

  9. The UAE wants Qatar to completely capitulate to Saudi and Emirati government demands.

    The UAE leadership has even said it’s not interested in negotiating with Qatar.

    The UAE and Saudi leadership’s goal is to humiliate Qatar, provoke a change of who is Emir in Qatar, and to ultimately get Qatar to behave like a vassal state of the Saudi and Emirati leadership when it comes to the foreign policy and media sphere.

    While Qatar, much like Saudi Arabia and the UAE, have a history of supporting various extremists and militant outfits of questionable character, the real vipers in this pit are the Saudi and Emirati royals and their cadre of kiss-ups at home and abroad.

  10. This will be a tough one for Oman Air as well. Oman and Qatar have a partnership that goes as far as offering joint visas and I would guess that Oman Air isn’t going to cut flights to Qatar.

  11. This is going to backfire on UAE. I’m not cancelling my Qatar flights for July, sorry UAE, I know Emirates and Etihad are suffering but trying to crush your competitor this way isn’t going to happen. And yesterday when I got off a flight here in Zürich I had a nice chat with the crew on the underground train from Terminal D … they don’t seem at all fazed. It’s business as usual for them until this madness stops.

  12. Credit to Lucky that his post title this time has Wow instead of WOW on his post about singapore previously and some readers made comments about him using WOW.
    Or maybe this news only deserve a Wow instead of WOW? Haha

  13. @Lucky — I thought the Maldives had banned Qatar as well? If you check out flight aware you see QR is flying their two daily non-stops as scheduled.

    Am I missing something?


  14. @Lucky — this isn’t the first time this has happened either. Bahrain sent out this NOTAM 2 days ago:

    A0212/17 NOTAMR A0211/17
    Q) OBBB/QXXXX/IV/NBO/E /000/999/
    A) OBBB B) 1706071748 C) PERM
    TEL:00973 17329035 / 00973 17329096

    Non-Qatari aircraft flying through Bahraini airspace to and from Doha now need to get permission from Bahrain before flying through their airspace. Although not a ban, getting permission from Bahrain can take days and can also be denied.

  15. Funny how this happened soon after the Orange-haired Monster traipsed through this area kissing autocrat arses and whipping up anti-Iran hysteria. This looks like another screw-up engineered by that overambitious Clown Prince Mohamed of the Democratic Kingdom of Saudi Arabia who is trying to deflect attention from the Yemeni morass. And al-Jazeera does not help, either. As @Ben W says, Qatar can turn off the gas tap and the UAE is toast. Qatar could sell its gas via Iranian shipping points. Netenyahoo and his thug regime must delight in this new front against the only country left that might hold it to account, Iraq. Syria, and Egypt taken care of by invasions and coups by Israel’s unquestioning western friends. This is UAE madness.

  16. This action by UAE is going to backfire. Imagine if Iran and Turkey block Emirates and Etihad using their airspace. That will certainly screw these airlines.

  17. You have GOT to look at this through the eyes of geopolitics. Not only is airspace being closed, so are land borders and territorial waters. Qatari diplomats had 48 hours to leave the UAE, and Qatari citizens AND residents (and people with Qatari visas) have 14 days to leave. Additionally, UAE citizens/residents/visa holders have been ordered to leave Qatar by the UAE within 14 days. This is WAY more than just airspace issues. It is much more serious.

  18. I can’t wait until this is all over and sanity prevails and then I can rally exact my revenge against these people trying to bring down Qatar.

    I will permanently black-ban the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain. Filthy Saudia is already on my list because of the way they treat homosexuals and women. And who in their right mind would go to Yemen anyway. And bye bye Mauritius, never a cent of my dough.

    And then I will boycott Emirates flights. I will boycott Etihad. Already you wouldn’t catch me dead on Gulf Air, Saudia Arabian or Egypt anyway, so no difference.

    Sure, I am only 1. And they probably don’t give a fuck about 1. But 1 becomes 2 and 4 and 8 and 16 and so on. Sooner or later they will have to cancel orders for new aircraft (oh, wait a minute, the recalcitrants from UA have already had to do that, LOL ).

    It’s my personal stance and my way of saying fuck you Saudia and fuck you UAE.

  19. Another intriguing issue is flight paths from the east. Until the ban, HKG-DOH flew over India, the Gulf of Oman, Oman and the UAE. The new route takes them over southern Pakistan and Iran. At least a slight security concern for a US passport holder (myself) planning to take that flight in a few weeks’ time.

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