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Qatar Row: Egypt Closes Its Airspace to Qatari Planes

In a growing diplomatic row, Egypt has closed its airspace to Qatari planes and Saudi Arabia and Bahrain are expected to do the same on June 6.

Yesterday, several Gulf countries have cut ties with Qatar, accusing it of supporting terrorism in the region.

Qatari nationals in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the UAE have been given two weeks to leave.

Qatar denies backing militants and its foreign minister has called for “a dialogue of openness and honesty”.

Egypt has announced it was closing off its airspace to Qatar from 04:00 GMT on June 6 “until further notice”.

Travel disruption is expected as the airport in Doha, Qatar’s capital, is a major hub for international flight connections.

Image source Wikipedia

Airlines affected will include Qatar Airways, Etihad Airways and Emirates.

When avoiding the massive neighbor to the west, Saudi Arabia, Qatari planes will inevitably have to take longer routes leading to longer flight times.

However, Qatar’s Foreign Minister, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Abdulrahman al-Thani, told broadcaster Al Jazeera the country would “still have access to the world through international sea lanes and international airspace”.

An anonymous Somali official told AP at least 15 Qatar Airways flights had used Somalia’s airspace on June 5, many more than on a normal day.

The states joining the move against Qatar, a tiny but gas-rich peninsula, on June 5 include some of the biggest powers in the Arab world.

Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE closed all transport ties by air, land and sea to Qatar.

They gave all Qatari visitors and residents two weeks to leave their territory, and banned their citizens from travelling to Qatar.

The UAE and Egypt expelled Qatari diplomats, giving them 48 hours to leave.

Saudi Arabia closed down a local office of Al Jazeera, but said Qatari citizens would still be allowed to take part in the annual Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca.

Egypt, Yemen, Libya’s eastern-based government and the Maldives later followed suit in severing diplomatic ties.