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Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Qatar Airways aircraft can now access limited Bahraini and the UAE airspace after the nations approved a new route for the airline.

The move follows a directive from a UN aviation body to Gulf states, telling them to honor their airspace agreements with Qatar.

The route opening is being seen as a significant step, some two months after the introduction of punitive airspace restrictions were put into place.

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The new airway into Doha

The countries made the announcement through NOTAMs (information notices for pilots). The route is effective from Aug. 7 until Nov. 6 this year.

Only aircraft heading into Doha can use the airway, but it should make flight planning a little easier for Qatar Airways.

The carrier must currently route all of its aircraft through very limited air corridors in and out of Doha.

Further changes hinted

Access to Bahrain’s airspace is critical for the airline, as it actually encircles Qatar.

flightservicebureau.org

A map showing airspace in the Gulf region

Bahrain has also signaled further changes to airspace access in another NOTAM it published effective Aug. 17, but has not yet given any more details about it.

The decision to open up the new airway comes a week after the International Civil Aviation Organization met at Qatar’s request to discuss the legality of closed air links.

In a statement today, Qatar Civil Aviation Authority (QCAA) Chairman Abdullah bin Nasser Turki Al-Subaie said that new route was a direct result of the ICAO meeting.

The airway is over international waters, an area which is supposed to be available to everyone, the statement added.

However, it’s important to note that Qatar Airways aircraft are still not allowed to fly over UAE and Bahrain directly.

Flight restrictions

Since the blockade began, Qatar Airways aircraft have been unable to fly over or into Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt and the UAE.

Qatar Airways/Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

This has meant longer flights to many destinations, and the cancellation of hundreds of Qatar Airways flights within the region.

Following the recent meeting, ICAO made clear that Bahrain, the UAE and Egypt should reopen their airspace to Qatari registered aircraft.

This is because they are all signatories of the International Air Services Transit Agreement. This states that countries must not ban other signatories from access to their airspace.

However, Saudi Arabia, which is leading the boycott on Qatar, is not a signatory and thus not bound by its rules.

Thoughts?

YouTube

Malaysian singer Maizurah’s song is on YouTube

The blockade of Qatar is now entering its second month, and shows no signs of letting up any time soon.

Many people within the country have responded with patriotic car parades; wearing t-shirts, stickers and posters bearing the image of the Emir; and participating in hashtag campaigns on social media.

Recently, two separate musicians decided to offer their support by writing and performing songs that celebrate the defiant stance taken by Qatar’s leaders against their neighbors.

#StaystrongQatar

The first is Malaysian singer Maizurah, who calls Qatar her “second home.”

The public relations officer has lived in Qatar for three years. In a statement, she said that the GCC crisis had “really affected her personally” as Qatar had been “a country of opportunity” for her.

Her song, which was co-written with British songwriter and producer Ben Haynes, is entitled #StayStrongQatar.

Its lyrics urge Qatar to “keep your head high and never lose yourself.”

They continue:

“They can block you
They put you down
But they can’t break you.

Stay Strong, stand on your own.
Keep on going don’t lose yourself.
Stay Strong, you’re not alone.
Spread your wings and believe in you.”

American satire

While Maizurah’s song is an upbeat call for unity, American performer Jim Terr has taken a more wry look at the situation.

In his song, the Qatar Guitar Blues, Terr pokes fun at US President Donald Trump, who has expressed support for the blockade.

The satirist also describes Qatar as “for that region, at least, a shinin’ star.”

Additionally, Terr defends Al Jazeera and strongly criticizes Egypt (“When Egypt’s askin’ for a fight, You must be doin’ something right”), as well as Saudi Arabia:

“And Saudi’s no more just desert nomads.
They got the US by the gonads.
The 9-11 terrorists came from there
But they’re our pals, so what do we care?”

What do you think of the songs? Thoughts?

Nan Palmero/Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Qatar’s national carrier has announced plans to launch two new routes earlier than expected, as its short-haul schedules continue to take a hit following the GCC blockade.

Qatar Airways’ first service to Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic, and Sohar in Oman will now take place by the end of August.

The Prague route had initially been expected to launch next year. And the airline had only recently signaled its intention to begin flights to Sohar.

Aero Icarus/Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Both new routes will be operated by the airline’s A320 fleet of short-haul narrowbody aircraft.

In a statement this week, the airline’s CEO Akbar Al Baker said the introduction of the routes had been “expedited,” but did not elaborate.

Several more new route announcements will “follow shortly,” the statement added.

Qatar Airways’ decision to bring forward these routes suggests authorities are now making long-term plans to deal with the repercussions of the Gulf dispute.

Wikimedia Commons

GCC

Qatar handed in its response to neighbors’ demands this week. And the foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the UAE and Egypt are set to discuss them today in Cairo.

Excess capacity

Due to the crisis, Qatar Airways has been unable to fly to any airports in those four countries. But these routes had previously made up a large portion of its short-haul schedule.

Qatar Airways/Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

This means that its large fleet of A320s is now being underused.

So much so, that nine of them are currently in the UK for two weeks helping British Airways cover a cabin crew strike.

Moving up some of the airline’s planned new routes should also get the aircraft back in the skies more often, helping the carrier recoup some revenue.

The Sohar route launches on Aug. 8 and will fly three times a week (Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday). Prague will launch on Aug. 21 with daily flights.

Thoughts?