Qatar appeals to peak aviation body to open neighbours’ skies

Qatar appeals to peak aviation body to open neighbours’ skies

The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), the UN’s aviation arm, will hold a hearing today on reopening UAE airspace to

Photo: Qatar Airways

Photo: Qatar Airways

The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), the UN’s aviation arm, will hold a hearing today on reopening UAE airspace to Qatari planes. State-owned Qatar Airways, a major global carrier recently named “Airline of the Year” by Skytrax, was forced to cancel flights and take longer routes. The move is part of a four-state boycott led by Saudi Arabia.

The Saudis issued non-negotiable demands to Qatar last Friday, including cutting support to Islamist groups and severing ties with Iran. Qatar has scoffed at these conditions and the boycotting states are now weighing further economic sanctions.

With diplomacy going nowhere, Qatar has appealed to the international aviation peak body. Through Article 84 of its charter ICAO can settle disputes, but the organisation’s enforcement mechanisms are nonexistent and its implementation is slow. A US-Cuba dispute took over two years to resolve; Qatar probably wants a faster conclusion.

Rather than a quick fix, today’s hearing appears designed to pressure the Saudi-led bloc to engage in more constructive negotiations with the hope of reaching a settlement beyond just the skies.

Delve deeper: Qatar’s Islamist ties targeted by Saudi-led demands