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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 18 January 2021

Egypt reopens airspace to flights from Qatar

Cairo follows similar moves by Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE

Qatar Airways said it would operate a daily service to Riyadh. Reuters
Qatar Airways said it would operate a daily service to Riyadh. Reuters

Egypt on Tuesday lifted a three-year ban on Qatari aviation, saying all flights to and from the Gulf Arab nation could now resume.

A statement by the Civil Aviation Authority said it would now wait for the two countries’ national carriers – Qatari Airways and EgyptAir – along with private companies to submit their flight schedules.

It was not immediately clear when flights would begin.

The announcement constituted the first concrete step by Egypt to implement last week’s decision to lift restrictions on Qatar imposed when Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain cut ties with Doha in 2017 and closed their air space to Qatari planes.

The end of the restrictions was announced during a summit of the Gulf Cooperation Council held last week in Al Ula, Saudi Arabia.

A one-off flight from Doha with Qatar’s finance minister on board arrived in Egypt on January 6, hours after the four nations announced the end of the restrictions on Qatar. The minister, Ali Sharif Al Emadi, was in Egypt for the inauguration of a Qatari-owned luxury hotel in Cairo.

Flights between Qatar and Saudi Arabia resumed on Monday. A Qatar Airways flight from Doha to Riyadh was the first between the two neighbours after the GCC summit.

Qatar Airways said it would operate a daily service to the Saudi capital's King Khalid International Airport

The UAE and Bahrain also reopened their airspace to Qatari planes, but have yet to announce dates for the resumption of direct flights.

Bahrain's Civil Aviation Affairs department said Qatari planes would be allowed to pass through Bahrain's airspace, the state news agency reported.

US National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien said last November that allowing Qatari aircraft to fly over Saudi Arabia again was one of the priorities of US President Donald Trump's administration.

“The decision allows EgyptAir and Qatar Airways, as well as other Qatari airlines, to resume air traffic and send flight operating schedules to the Egyptian and Qatari civil aviation authorities for approval,” head of the Egyptian Civil Aviation Authority, Ashraf Noyer, told Al Ahram Gate newspaper.

Updated: January 12, 2021 08:56 PM

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