The Gulf state’s win represents another major achievement in its aviation industry.
Qatar won the membership of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Council for the first time in history on Tuesday after garnering 160 votes.
The historic moment was witnessed by 193 countries attending the 41st Session of the ICAO Assembly in Montreal, Canada, according to Qatar’s News Agency (QNA).
QNA reported that the number of votes the Gulf state has received made it one of the highest-scoring candidates in Group C of the council.
Commenting on his country’s win, Qatar’s Minister of Transport Jassim Al Sulaiti noted that the membership exhibits its “ranking and recognition at international fora”.
Al Sulaiti added that the win also highlights ICAO’s confidence in Qatar’s capability in the development of the aviation industry in finding solutions to its existing and future challenges.
Echoing the same sentiment, Qatar’s Assistant Foreign Minister for Regional Affairs Dr. Mohammed Al Khulaifi said Doha’s ICAO membership “attaches special importance to the role played by specialised UN agencies.”
“It also always affirms its readiness to actively contribute to ICAO’s work in the field of international civil aviation safety and security. The election of the country today as a member of the Council is an expression of the confidence of the international community to play this role,” tweeted Al Khulaifi.
The Qatari official also thanked Al Sulaiti for the Gulf state’s latest achievement.
According to aviation analyst Alex Macheras, “aviation-focused” Qatar would now be joining other member states including the US and Singapore on the table of other decision-makers “for the global aviation policy”.
“It’s a historic election result for the country, and a big win for Qatar’s Minister of Transport, Jassim Al Sulaiti — (who only just recently obtained the country’s first-ever airspace “Doha FIR” through ICAO, a process that took several years),” tweeted Macheras.
Flight Information Region
The Gulf state’s latest victory comes almost two months since it signed an agreement with its neighbours over the activation of the Doha Flight Information Region (FIR), the country’s own airspace.
Qatar signed the agreement with Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and the UAE following a similar deal inked between Doha and Tehran in April.
The agreements represented a crucial step in the execution of the International ICAO’s decision in March this year over the establishment of Qatar’s FIR.
The FIR enables the Gulf state to expand its current sovereign airspace into the United Arab Emirates, Iran, and Bahrain, while achieving safe and sustainable air transport operations in the region.
The airspace is the first to ever be established for Qatar, redrawing the skies of the world’s airspace map for the first time in decades. The Doha FIR shrinks Bahrain’s airspace and extend to the UAE and north towards Iran.
One outcome of the Doha FIR is that up to 70% of flights heading to the UAE will pass through Qatar’s airspace.
With a new FIR of its own, Qatar gains much-needed airspace independence, and the country will have the ability to maximise the efficiency of air travel around Qatar in order to better meet its air travel sustainability goals.
The latest development in the establishment of the Doha FIR also comes just weeks ahead of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, where shuttle flights will take off between countries in the region to transport eager football fans.