Qatar Airways to seek damages over 'illegal' blockade


Doha (AFP)

Qatar Airways said Wednesday it will seek compensation for losses sustained from an "illegal airspace blockade" imposed since 2017 by four Middle East nations.

The announcement came a day after the International Court of Justice ruled Qatar could challenge airspace restrictions imposed by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt over three years ago before the UN's International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

"Qatar Airways will pursue its case for appropriate compensation of the financial injuries inflicted on Qatar Airways as a result of the illegal airspace blockade," the airline said in a statement.

The four Saudi-led blockading nations severed diplomatic ties with Qatar in June 2017 and imposed a land, sea and air embargo, accusing Doha of backing radical Islamist groups and forging close relations with Iran.

Qatar repeatedly denied the allegations and sued the four countries before the ICAO.

"The arbitrary and abusive measures that these four states have taken against us have devastated our carefully planned decades-long programme for investment and growth in those countries," Qatar Airways said.

"They have arbitrarily prevented us from serving hundreds of thousands of passengers, and transporting tens of thousands of tons of cargo to and from each of these countries annually."

Qatar Airways is the second largest airliner in the Middle East after Dubai-based Emirates, operating a modern fleet of 250 aircraft.

Since the start of the air blockade, the national carrier has posted losses of hundreds of millions of dollars.