Qatar’s National Airline Seeking Compensation over Blocked Airspace
Qatar Airways is suing Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and, farther afield, Egypt for banning its aircraft from their skies as part of a regional feud. The airline is seeking a minimum of $5 billion in damages. “After more than three years of efforts to resolve the crisis amicably through dialogue yielded no results, we have taken the decision to issue notices of arbitration and pursue all legal remedies to protect our rights and secure full compensation for the violation,” Akbar al-Baker, CEO of Qatar Airways, said Wednesday in a statement. The other four countries have been at odds with Qatar since 2017, claiming it supports terrorism and severing ties. Qatar is considered friendly with Iran and is a backer of Hamas and other Islamist groups in the Gaza Strip. Occupying a peninsula jutting into the Gulf, Qatar’s sole land border is with Saudi Arabia and it remains closed to routine traffic. The feud also involves trade blockades, which Doha has circumvented by increasing its commerce with Iran and Turkey. The blocked airspaces have cost the Qatari airline in fuel and time due to longer air routes. The International Court of Justice of the United Nations last week sided with Doha in ruling that the International Civil Aviation Authority can decide on the legality of the air blockade.