UN aviation body declines to get more involved in Gulf dispute
A UN aviation body that told Gulf states to reopen their airspace to Qatar will not continue to press the issue, it said.
Backing away from a complaint lodged by Qatar over closed-off airspace, the International Civil Aviation Organization said “political issues” should “be tackled in international forums away from the ICAO.”
According to Gulf media, the ICAO released the statement this week, after the UAE and Bahrain opened a new air corridor to Qatar Airways.
The national carrier has been taking circuitous routes out of the GCC for the past two months after boycotting nations closed their airspace to Qatari aircraft.
The ICAO reportedly said:
“After taking note of the Qatari complaint, the reply from the four counter-terrorism nations and hearing from the ICAO’s general secretariat about the flow of air traffic over international waters the ICAO Council acknowledged that political outstanding issues between these concerned states should be tackled in international forums away from the ICAO.”
The announcement essentially means that the ICAO is satisfied with the new corridor introduced to Qatar. There are also plans to offer some emergency routes.
But local officials including Qatar Airways’ CEO have criticized the corridor as “very short.” So far, the airline doesn’t even appear to even be using it.
And speaking earlier this week, Akbar Al Baker urged the ICAO “to demand from these countries the unconditional opening of the airspace.”
Meanwhile, officials from the boycotting countries have hailed the ICAO for maintaining its “neutrality.”
They added that the airspace closures will remain largely in place for the time being for security reasons.
This is despite the fact that Bahrain, Egypt and the UAE are signatories of an international agreement that prohibits them from closing their airspace to Qatar.
Saudi Arabia however, which is leading the blockade against Qatar, is not a signatory and thus does not need to abide by its tenets.