Jan 09, 2021 06:24 UTC
  • First Qatari flight passes through Saudi airspace since 2017

Qatar’s national carrier says it has started to reroute some of its flights to travel through Saudi Arabia’s airspace after the kingdom reopened its air borders to the Persian Gulf country following years of a bitter feud.

In a brief statement on its official Twitter account, Qatar Airways said that it had begun directing a number of its flights through Saudi airspace, adding that the first flight had been scheduled to leave the capital, Doha, to Johannesburg at 20.45 p.m. local time on Thursday.

The flight departed Hamad International Airport with some delay at 9:13 p.m. local time for the capital city of South Africa via Saudi Arabian airspace.

Flying via Saudi Arabia will shave off almost an hour from the previous roundabout routing over the Arabian Sea.

Back in 2017, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Egypt severed their ties with Qatar, faulting Doha’s relations with Iran, accusing it of supporting “terrorism” due to its backing of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood and the Palestinian resistance movement of Hamas, and claiming that Doha was sowing regional instability.

The Saudi-led quartet called on Doha to downgrade its ties with Tehran and cease its support for the Islamic groups, a well as other excessive demands.

Qatar strongly rejected the terror allegations as an attack on its sovereignty and refused to yield to the demands, and the four Arab countries imposed a crippling blockade from land, sea, and air against the small peninsular country.

Several regional and international attempts to resolve the crisis failed.

However, the dispute was settled on Tuesday in the northwestern Saudi city of al-Ula, where the Persian Gulf Cooperation Council (PGCC) held a meeting in a bid to secure the resumption of diplomatic relations between Riyadh, Abu Dhabi, Manama, and Cairo on the one side and Doha on the other.

During the meeting, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said Persian Gulf states had reached a “solidarity and stability” agreement that had closed all preexisting rifts.

MG

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