The launch of the Qatar Airways route between Dublin Airport and Doha will be unaffected despite an escalating rift between Qatar and a number of neighbouring countries in the Gulf region.
A number of countries, including Saudi Arabia and Egypt, have cut diplomatic ties with Qatar, accusing it of destabilising the region and backing militant groups. Qatar has denied the claims made by the countries.
Saudi Arabia closed its borders, severing land, sea and air contact with the tiny peninsula of the oil-rich nation. Qatar called the decision “unjustified” and with “no basis in fact”.
The service between Ireland and Qatar commences on June 12, with a gate ceremony to be held at Dublin Airport.
Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways and Dubai’s Emirates are suspending all flights to and from Doha, starting from Tuesday morning. Both carriers operate four daily return flights to the Qatari capital of Doha.
Budget carriers FlyDubai and Air Arabia are also cancelling routes to Doha, with other airlines, including Bahrain’s Gulf Air and Egyptair, expected to follow.
Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt all said they would stop flights in and out of Qatar, and close their airspace to Qatar Airways, which has dozens of flights each day to Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Riyadh and Cairo. The airline’s routes to other countries will be unaffected, but flight paths have been changed to fly over Iran and Turkey to European destinations.
Qatar Airways said: “All customers booked on affected flights to and from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will be provided with alternative options, including the option of a full refund on any unused tickets and free rebooking to the nearest alternative Qatar Airways network destination.” It also provided a link to its travel alert page.
A number of European airlines also fly to Doha, with British Airlines saying that it will “continue to offer a full schedule”.
In a statement Etihad said: “From the morning of June 6, 2017, Etihad Airways will suspend all flights to and from Doha until further notice. The last flight from Abu Dhabi to Doha will depart as EY399 at 0245 (local time) on June 6. The last flight from Doha to Abu Dhabi will depart as EY390 at 0400 (local time) on June 6.
“All customers who are booked on Etihad Airways flights to and from Doha are being provided with alternative options, including full refunds on unused tickets and free rebooking to the nearest alternate Etihad Airways destinations.” Flights on June remained unaffected.
Emirates said: “As instructed by the UAE government, Emirates will suspend its flights to and from Doha, starting from the morning of 6 June 6, 2017, until further notice. The last flight from Dubai to Doha will depart as EK847 at 0230 on June 6. The last flight from Doha to Dubai will depart as EK848 at 0350 on June 6.
“Emirates’ flights to and from Doha today (June 5), will operate as normal. Travellers bound for Doha, who are boarding their flight from airports around the Emirates network today (June 5), will be advised to make alternative arrangements.”
In response, Qatar Airways has suspended all flights to Saudi Arabia from 2359 this evening (June 5).
The diplomatic withdrawal was put into motion first by Bahrain then Saudi Arabia. The United Arab Emirates (UAE), Egypt, Yemen and Libya’s eastern-based government followed suit.
Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain have given all Qatari visitors and residents two weeks to leave their territory. The UAE and Egypt have given Qatari diplomats 48 hours to leave both countries.