On Monday morning four major powers in the MENA region — Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain and Egypt –announced their shocking decision to cut off diplomatic ties with Qatar and close their airspace and seaports to Qatari vessels and planes.
Later on, Yemen, Libya and Maldives have also joined the list of countries who have severed ties with Qatar.
The diplomatic rift has wreaked havoc with airlines in the region, with major long-haul carriers such as Doha-based Qatar Airways and Dubai’s Emirates suspending flights, leaving many passengers stranded at airports in the Gulf.
Here is how the major airlines are reacting to the diplomatic crisis and how it will affect travel:
- Qatar’s national carrier – Qatar Airways has suspended all flights to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia until further notice.
- Qatar Airways has also suspended all flights to the UAE from 00:00 UTC June 6th (03:00 Doha time, June 6th) until further notice.
- Qatar Airways has also suspended all flights to the Kingdom of Bahrain from 00:00 UTC June 6th (03:00 Doha time, June 6th) until further notice.
- Qatar Airways has suspended all flights to Egypt from 04:00 UTC June 6th (07:00 Doha time, June 6th) until further notice.
All customers booked on affected flights will be provided with alternative options, including the option of a full refund on any unused tickets and free rebooking to the nearest alternative Qatar Airways network destination, the airline said on its Travel Alerts page.
For passengers with existing bookings, please call +974 4023 0072 or contact your nearest Qatar Airways office.
Emirates will suspend its flights to and from Doha, starting from the morning of 6 June 2017, until further notice, the airline’s spokesperson has confirmed.
- The last flight from Dubai to Doha will depart as EK847 at 02:30am on 6 June
- The last flight from Doha to Dubai will depart as EK848 at 03:50am on 6 June
- Emirates’ flights to and from Doha today (5 June), will operate as normal
Travellers bound for Doha, who are boarding their flight from airports around the Emirates network today (5 June), will be advised to make alternative arrangements.
All customers booked on Emirates’ flights to and from Doha will be provided with alternative options, including full refunds on unused tickets and free rebooking to the nearest alternate Emirates destinations.
For more information, customers can call the Emirates Contact Centre on 600 555555, or visit www.emirates.com
Etihad Airways will suspend all flights to and from Doha from June 6 until further notice, Abu Dhabi-based national airline of the UAE has announced.
- The last flight from Abu Dhabi to Doha will depart as EY399 at 02:45 (local time) on 6 June.
- The last flight from Doha to Abu Dhabi will depart as EY390 at 04:00 (local time) on 6 June.
- Flights on 5 June will operate as normal.
Air Arabia said on Monday that it had suspended flights between Sharjah and Doha effective Tuesday until further notice.
- The airline’s last outbound flight from Sharjah to Doha will depart at 18:30 local time on Monday.
- The last inbound flight from Doha to Sharjah will depart on Monday at 19:25 local time.
Passengers who hold existing reservations on Air Arabia flights to Doha after June 5 will be provided with the option of a full refund or booked to other destinations, it said.
From Tuesday 06 June 2017, all flydubai flights between Dubai and Doha will be suspended, the airline has announced.
Passengers who have purchased tickets for travel between Dubai and Doha are advised to contact their travel agent, the flydubai travel shop in Doha on 00974 4 4227350/51 or Contact Centre in Dubai on 00971 600 54 44 45 to arrange a refund.
Saudi Arabian Airlines
Saudi Arabia’s General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) said on Monday it has banned all Qatari planes from landing in the kingdom’s airports, following the worst rift in years among the Gulf countries.
A statement from the aviation body said the decision was effective immediately and involves all the Qatari private and commercial airplanes which will be banned from crossing the Saudi airspace.
- GACA also said all Saudi commercial and private air operators shall be banned from operating to Qatar.
- Meanwhile, Saudi Arabian Airlines (Saudia) has suspended all flights to Qatar, it said on its official Twitter account on Monday, without providing further details.
Gulf Air, the Kingdom of Bahrain’s national carrier, has announced the suspension of its multiple daily service between Bahrain and Doha with effect from 23:59, 5 June 2017 – local Bahrain time – and until further notice.
The last Gulf Air flight from Bahrain to Doha (GF530) will depart at 20:55 on 5 June and the last Gulf Air flight from Doha to Bahrain (GF531) will depart at 22:40 on 5 June.
A dedicated customer services team from the Gulf Air 24-hour Worldwide Contact Centre has been set up and is contacting affected passengers to offer alternative options, including full refunds on unused tickets and free rebooking to the nearest alternate Gulf Air destinations.
Passengers can contact the Gulf Air Worldwide Contact Centre on +973 17373737 or visit the airline’s website gulfair.com for further information.
Impact on Indian Travellers
Direct flights to Indian cities from Qatar will not be affected as flights to India are not passing through the restricted airspace. However there will be a shortage of flights and the ticket rates can also skyrocket.
The ban will not affect passengers from West who are flying via Doha to India. However it would affect travellers from Saudi, UAE and Bahrain who are planning to fly via Doha.
Those who are travelling to India via UAE or Bahrain — via Emirates, Etihad, Air Arabia, Gulf Air etc — will have to contact the airline for further instructions.
If the travel dates are near, the airline can provide a refund. Alternative arrangements does not seem to be possible until the crisis is resolved.
What do I do if my flight is cancelled?
If you are travelling to Europe, the European Union regulations require airlines to offer you either a full refund of the unused parts of your tickets, or to re-route you to your destination, as soon as possible. It may also allow you to rebook your flights for a later date at no extra cost.
If EU regulations do not apply to your flights – for example, if you are flying between Dubai and Doha – then you should contact your airline.
So far, all the airlines impacted have said they will offer refunds on unused tickets and opportunities to rebook to alternative destinations.
Published on 5 June 2017