Qatar Airways seeks $5bn compensation over airspace closure


Doha (AFP)

Qatar Airways said Wednesday it will seek $5 billion in compensation from Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt for closing their airspace to the flag carrier as part of a regional feud.

"The arbitrations seek redress for the blockading states' actions to remove Qatar Airways from their markets and to forbid the airline from flying over their airspace," the airline said in a statement, adding that at least $5 billion would be sought.

The International Court of Justice last week ruled Qatar could challenge the airspace restrictions imposed by the four countries before the UN's International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

The overflight restrictions are part of a raft of measures taken by the Saudi-led nations since June 2017 as part of their coordinated effort to pressure Qatar over its alleged support for radical Islamist movements and Iran.

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

"After more than three years of efforts to resolve the crisis amicably through dialogue yielded no results, we have taken the decision to issue Notices of Arbitration and pursue all legal remedies to protect our rights and secure full compensation for the violations," the airline's chief executive, Akbar Al-Baker, said in the statement.

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

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