After the closure of airspace by five neighboring Arabian states for flights of Qatar Airways, the carrier and its cargo arm are facing severe traffic disruptions and higher operational costs. The step of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain, Yemen, the Gulf Emirates and even the Maldives could trigger a threatening crisis for the Qatari airline.
As of tomorrow (6 June), QR will have to stop all flights to and from the countries that have blacklisted the carrier in a political move following U.S. President Trump's recent visit to the
rulers of Saudi Arabia. It's not known what was discussed and agreed on between both sides in Riyadh, but there are many reasons to believe that the "Qatari annoyance" was a major topic. This
because of the alleged ruling Al Thani Regime’s support of the Egypt Islamist Muslim Brotherhood, Palestine’s Hamas, Lebanese terror organization Hezbollah and Iran’s Shia clerics.
Particularly Teheran’s government is accused by Mr Trump of supporting and financing terrorism, thus destabilizing Yemen, Iraq or Lebanon by military intervention or subversive action.
An easy pick
What has this got to do with the flight embargo?
At first sight nothing. But when taking a second look it becomes clear that Qatar is punished by their Sunni Arabian neighbors because the Al Thani family is a close ally of the Iranian rulers, shown by their constant support of Teheran’s political course.
State owned Qatar Airways and its Cargo unit are an easy pick. In the eyes of Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the Gulf Emirates the carrier is a figurehead of the Doha government. So blacklisting the airline is a slam for the close Iran ties of the Doha rulers.
Harsh consequences for airline and QR Cargo
The consequences are bitter for QR and their air freight division headed by Uli Ogiermann. All flights to the aforementioned states have to be stopped at once. Further, routes to/from African destinations will be more time consuming since QR aircraft have to circumvent Saudi Arabia and Egypt whose airspace is shut for the Qatari carrier. This prolongs journeys and ups expenditures due to higher fuel burn.
Supply shortage threatens
To be isolated from air services of their neighbors will also result in shortages of consumables, food and temp sensitive product like pharmaceuticals or vaccines since goods traditionally flown by Emirates, Etihad or Gulf Air and destined to Doha cannot transit at their hubs Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Bahrain for onward transportation to Qatar.
Also, maritime transports are affected since Egypt closed their harbours for vessels coming or steaming to Qatar; Saudia Arabia and the Gulf states might follow suit.
In this case, bulk transportation of materials, but also of large machinery or food items destined to Qatar will suffer a blow, leading to a foreseeable supply bottleneck.
After breaking off all diplomatic relations Saudi Arabia ordered all nationals living in Qatar or doing business there to return back home within fourteen days.
Should the Kingdom shut the border to Qatar, the only existing terrestrial point of crossing, the Al Thany dynasty will be facing major problems.
FIFA remains tight-lipped
While Qatar becomes increasingly isolated, the international soccer federation FIFA has not commented on the latest development. This reticence is all the more remarkable since the FIFA World Cup is supposed to be played in Qatar in 2022. Should the flight ban last until then it will be difficult for players and spectators to attend the big show.