Three of the Gulf Cooperation Council countries (Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates) and Egypt instituted blockage of Qatar in June 2017 that prevented Qatar Airways from flying in the airspace controlled by these countries, including providing passenger services to/from them.
International Court of Justice ruled Qatar’s favor in July 2020 about ICAO’s authority to decide over blockage of the airspace in the gulf that would have likely lead to significant monetary compensation to Qatar Airways due to harm caused.
You can access Qatar Airways here.
Now there is the word coming out from the Gulf that the blockade is coming to an end, and an agreement between the countries is signed tomorrow in Saudi Arabia.
Qatar Airways can again utilize these four countries’ airspace that it has been denied access to for the past three and a half years. It is unclear whether the resumption of passenger services is allowed as well.
In turn, Qatar will stop pursuing the lawsuit that it would have likely won against these four states.
Here’s an excerpt from Reuters:
Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt have imposed a diplomatic, trade and travel embargo on Qatar since mid-2017 accusing it of supporting terrorism. Qatar denies it and says the embargo aims to undermine its sovereignty.
Kuwait and the United States have been trying to end the row in which Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and non-Gulf Egypt severed diplomatic, trade and travel ties with Qatar in mid-2017, shattering regional unity which Washington says hinders efforts to contain Iran.
The four boycotting countries had accused Qatar of supporting terrorism. Doha denies the charges and says the embargo aims to curtail its sovereignty.
The law case that Qatar would have likely won:
Here’s how it all started in 2017:
This blockage was a huge blow to Qatar Airways that was prevented any passenger services to/from these countries or even using their airspace.
Considering the location of Doha in the Persian Gulf, the airline had to fly very uneconomical flight paths to circumvent the airspace of these four countries to which it was denied access (likely illegally), resulting in significant expenses.
Qatar Airways was one of the few airlines that continued to provide much-needed connectivity throughout the pandemic when other airlines such as Emirates and Etihad grounded their fleets, stranding passengers.
Qatar had an incentive to accept a deal due to the World Cup held in Doha next year, and Saudi Arabia may not have had as friendly administration to them in the US in just two weeks.