United Nations Sides With Qatar Over Airspace Blockade Case

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In June 2018, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) ruled it had jurisdiction to handle a dispute brought by the State of Qatar, which accused its neighbors of breaching an international convention governing international aviation. The International Court of Justice (ICJ) has today rejected an appeal regarding this issue by Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. 

Qatar Airways Doha
Qatari Officials in Doha will be glad to hear about the UN’s decision. Photo: Qatar Airways

The court has ruled

The appealing nations felt that the ICAO was not the right group to judge in the dispute. They expressed that the issues at hand went beyond civil aviation. Nonetheless, The Seattle Times reports that the United Nations’ top court has ordered in Qatar’s favor. This decision opens up the door for the ICAO to be able to rule in Qatar’s case.

The four countries form part of a coalition that imposed a blockade Qatar since June 2017. Part of this action stopped Qatar Airways’ flights from using its neighbors’ airspace. Moreover, the nation’s only land border, with Saudi Arabia, was closed off.

The move had a massive impact on air travel within Qatar. Therefore, it consulted international bodies for assistance.

Qatar Airways Getty
The situation with Qatar and its neighbors continues to be a sensitive matter. Photo: Getty Images

Progress for Qatar

In response to the ruling, Qatar’s minister of transport and communications, Jassim Saif Ahmed Al-Sulaiti said the following:

“We are confident that the ICAO will ultimately find these actions unlawful. This is the latest in a series of rulings that expose the blockading countries’ continued disregard for international law and due process. Step by step their arguments are being dismantled, and Qatar’s position vindicated.”

Additionally, a Qatar Airways statement says the following:

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“Qatar Airways welcomes the Judgment of the International Court of Justice affirming that the ICAO Council has the jurisdiction to hear any disagreement relating to the interpretation and implementation of the Chicago Convention 1944 and the International Air Services Transit Agreement.”

Despite the blockades, Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker affirmed that these initiatives have only made his airline and nation stronger. Last year, he said that it was a great shock in the beginning because it was done by people who he thought were part of the country’s greater family.

The executive didn’t expect the events to play out this way. However, he feels that it has only made Qatar more efficient. Above all, he said it was the perfect wake up call. He added that the carrier swiftly adapted to the events, sharing that it was operating at a larger scale than before. In the year that followed the start of the blockade, Qatar Airways’ overall revenue grew by 14% to $13.2 billion.

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Hamad International
Qatar Airways services to and from International Airport were prohibited from flying through several of its neighbors’ airspace. Photo: Getty Images

Important decisions

Altogether, the airline will be glad about the outcome of the Hague-based court’s ruling. With the global health crisis continuing to cause uncertainty across several industries, any opportunity to increase connectivity will go a long way. Now, all of the involved governments will be keeping a close eye on how the ICAO will proceed going forward.

What are your thoughts about the United Nations court ruling? Let us know what you think of the situation in the comment section.

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