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Qatar Airways seeks $5 billion from UAE, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Egypt over airspace ban

Qatar Airways has been reporting annual losses since 2018 and doesn’t expect to return to profitability for at least three more years, as the pandemic exacerbated its woes.

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Dubai: Qatar Airways is seeking at least $5 billion from the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt for stopping it from using their airspace.

The airline started four international investment arbitrations that “seek redress for the blockading states’ actions to remove Qatar Airways from their markets and to forbid the airline from flying over their airspace,” according to a statement Wednesday.

The Saudi-led bloc cut diplomatic, trade and transport links with Qatar in 2017, accusing the gas-rich country of maintaining close ties with Iran and supporting terrorism. Qatar denies the charges. Efforts to resolve the feud between important U.S. allies in the Gulf have been unsuccessful.

This month, Qatar won a legal round when the International Court of Justice said the International Civil Aviation Organization has jurisdiction to oversee negotiations over a reopening of the airspace.

Qatar Airways Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker said then that he believes ICAO will rule in Qatar’s favor. He couldn’t offer a prediction on when his company’s planes will be able to resume flying over the quartet’s territory.

UAE’s ministry of foreign affairs declined to comment on the arbitration demand, referring to a previous statement in which it said the court ruling was limited to procedural issues and “didn’t consider the merits of the case.”

The Saudi government’s Center for International Communication didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

The Doha-based carrier has had to abandon adding new routes and make lengthy diversions — an average of 25 minutes per flight – in order to continue to others, enlarging its fuel bill.

Qatar Airways has been reporting annual losses since 2018 and doesn’t expect to return to profitability for at least three more years, as the coronavirus pandemic exacerbated its woes.

Arbitrations have been brought under three separate treaties: the OIC Investment Agreement; the Arab Investment Agreement; and the bilateral investment treaty between Qatar and Egypt, Qatar Airways said.- Bloomberg


Also read:Why coronavirus will make everything you hate about flying worse


 

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