Beware if you are flying Qatar Airways in the days ahead: expect delays and/or flight cancellations as the Gulf airline finds itself in the middle of a larger diplomatic row.
The following nations have ceased diplomatic relations with Qatar:
- Saudi Arabia
- United Arab Emirates (UAE)
Qatar is blamed for destabilizing the region and propping up terrorist groups, a charge it denies.
The new restrictions are already impacting air traffic. Emirates and Etihad will suspend service to Doha starting tomorrow. Qatar will lose airspace rights over Saudi Arabia and has suspended all flights to Saudi Arabia (Qatar serves nine cities in the Kingdom). It is likely Qatar will be forced to cancel service to the other counties above as well and be barred from using airspace.
This creates a major problem for Qatar Airways, reducing its air space corridor likely to flying into and out of Doha in a northerly direction via Iran. It will implicate far more than regional flights, creating a potential bottleneck of traffic that will delay flights and erode operational reliability.
Let’s see how this plays out. If this move is permanent, it could greatly damage the viability of Qatar Airways.
The BBC reports that 40% of Qatar’s food is imported from Saudi Arabia. Shut off from many of its regional neighbors, expect food shortages and prices to soar as well. That could mean many of Qatar’s hotels will have to close their doors. More importantly, it could lead to empty grocery shelves for residents of Qatar.
I’ll be tracking this story throughout the day as news continues to unfold. This is not the place to discuss the nuances of geopolitics, but be aware that if you are traveling to/from Doha in the coming days your travel plans may be adversely impacted by today’s news.
image: Julian Herzog / Wikimedia Commons