Published: Fri, August 11, 2017
World | By Paul Elliott

UAE insists airspace not open to Qatari flights

The GCAA says it still "denies the opening of sovereign airspace" for transit by Qatari aircraft.

Qatar also announced on Wednesday that it will allow visa-free entry for citizens of 80 countries to encourage air transport and tourism amid the crisis.

The United Arab Emirates General Civil Aviation Authority has denied reports that it opened airspace to Qatar-registered aircraft in a statement issued on Wednesday.

Nationals of 33 countries will be granted stay for 180 days on arrival and the other 47 for up to 30 days.

Energy-rich Qatar's economy has taken a hit since Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain moved to isolate it two months ago over allegations it supports extremists.

"Reports claiming that Qatar Airways planes are using the airspace of some of the countries boycotting Doha are totally untrue", Al Riyadh newspaper reported citing the Saudi authority.

In all, 18 destinations in the region are now out of bounds for Qatar Airways, which has also been forced to close its offices in Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

Wednesday said Qatar-registered aircrafts can only use global airspace "managed" by United Arab Emirates (UAE), as opposed to comments by Montreal-based worldwide Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) that "some existing air route availability has been assured, and some new temporary or contingency routes have also been developed", including through Bahrain and UAE airspace.

It added: "This measure has been taken by the Kingdom of Bahrain in compliance with ICAO's directives to ensure safety in the air traffic system over global waters and it does not mean that the Kingdom has allowed the Qatar Airways to use its sovereign airspace".

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