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4 UAE carriers suspend flights to, from Doha.

Summary: Suspension starts June 6 until further notice as UAE severs diplomatic ties with Qatar

Sarah Diaa, Staff Reporter

Dubai: Emirates, Etihad Airways, flydubai and Air Arabia said on Monday they will suspend all flights to and from Doha starting June 6 until further notice after the UAE announced it was severing diplomatic ties with Qatar.

The four main UAE-based carriers said flights on June 5 will operate as per schedule.

In a statement on its website, Etihad said the last flight from Abu Dhabi to Doha will depart at 2.45am (local time) on June 6, and the last flight from Doha to Abu Dhabi will depart at 4am (local time) on the same day. It added that the airline is providing all its customers who booked flights to and from Doha with "alternative options including full refunds on unused tickets and free rebooking to the nearest alternate Etihad Airways destinations."

Similarly, flydubai said it was suspending all its flights between Dubai and Doha. In a statement, the carrier urged passengers who have purchased tickets to fly between Dubai and Doha, to "contact their travel agent, the flydubai travel shop in Doha on 00974 4 4227350/51 or our contact centre in Dubai on (00971) 600 544445 to arrange a refund."

Emirates also said it will suspend flights to and from Doha from the morning of June 6. The last flight from Dubai to Doha will depart at 2.30am on June 6, while the last flight from Doha to Dubai will depart at 3.50am on the same day.

"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 will be advised to make alternative arrangements," an Emirates spokesperson told Gulf News by email.

Emirates added: "All customers booked on Emirates' flights to and from Doha will be provided with alternative options, including full refunds on unused tickets and free rebooking to the nearest alternate Emirates destination." The carrier urged passengers to call its contact centre 600 555555, or visit the airline's website.

Meanwhile, Air Arabia said it was suspending Doha flights to and from both Sharjah and Ras Al Khaimah airports from June 6.

"The last outbound flight from Sharjah to Doha will depart today (June 5) at 6.30pm, while the last inbound flight from Doha to Sharjah will depart today at 7.25pm (local time). The remaining flights on June 5 will operate as normal," Air Arabia said in a statement.

Bahrain-based Gulf Air, too, took a similar measure, announcing the suspension of all its flights between Bahrain and Doha effective midnight June 6 and until further notice.

Geopolitical tension

The suspension comes after the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Egypt said they are cutting diplomatic ties with Qatar amid escalating tensions over accusations that Doha sponsors terrorism.

Qatar Airways on Monday suspended all flights to Saudi Arabia. In a statement on its website, the carrier said it is suspending flights to the kingdom until 2.59am (Doha time) on June 6. It did not elaborate on other flights, however, and did not provide any comments on the status of its flights to and from the UAE.

Representatives at Qatar Airways' call centre told Gulf News that passengers with bookings to and from the UAE could assume their flights are on schedule, and said there were no updates regarding flights.

It is unclear how Qatar Airways plans to operate these flights considering that the UAE government has officially banned all Qatari means of transportation from coming to or leaving the UAE.

Impact on Qatar Airways

The suspension from the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Egypt is expected to hurt Qatar Airways, especially as Egypt and Saudi Arabia are key markets for outbound Qatari travel, analysts said.

"Perhaps the biggest worry for a hub carrier like Qatar [Airways] is the flow of connecting traffic through DOH (Doha's Hamad International Airport), particularly to and from the South Asian subcontinent," said Peter Morris, chief economist at Ascend, a UK-based consultancy.

He added: "If this traffic weakens and load factors drop on services to all destinations, Qatar are faced with having to reduce service levels or increase prices across a wide range of routes, not just those directly affected. Given the level of competition from airlines at other Gulf hubs, prices increases [is] probably a limited option."

DETAILS

Customers who are flying between the UAE and Qatar are advised to contact the airline to find other arrangements.

Etihad Airways: Customers already booked on Etihad flights to and from Doha are provided with options including full refunds and free rebooking to the nearest destination. Call +971 (0) 2599 0000 or visit www.etihad.com

Emirates airline: All passengers booked on flights to and from Doha will be provided with options including full refunds and free rebooking to the nearest destination. Call 600 555555, or visit‎ www.emirates.com

Flydubai: Passengers are urged to call the contact centre to arrange a refund. Call 00974 4 4227350/51 (from Doha) or (00971) 600 54 44 45 from the UAE.

Air Arabia: Passengers with existing reservations to Doha beyond June 5 can claim either a full refund or ask to be rebooked onto other destinations. Call 971 6 5580000 or visit www.airarabia.com

Gulf Air: The carrier is offering passengers affected by the suspension options that include full refunds on unused tickets and free rebooking to the nearest destination. Call +973 17373737 or visit the airline's website.

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Publication:Gulf News (United Arab Emirates)
Geographic Code:7QATA
Date:Jun 5, 2017
Words:941
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