Analysis: ICAO ruins Qatar’s endeavors to escape Arab boycott



Tue, 01 Aug 2017 - 08:40 GMT


Tue, 01 Aug 2017 - 08:40 GMT

ICAO headquarters- File photo

ICAO headquarters- File photo

CAIRO – 1 August 2017: The International Civil Aviation Organization Council (ICAO) approved in an extraordinary session on Monday a working paper of the four Arab states cutting diplomatic ties with Qatar, following a complaint by the tiny Gulf state.

Qatar requested the ICAO to interfere and discuss with the Arab quartet that had closed their airspaces to Qatari airplanes. Qatari officials had expressed their hopes that the ICAO would approve their complaint against the Arab quartet’s stance, but the ICAO’s decision ruined Qatar’s aspirations.

The head of the ICAO has confirmed that the approval came based on technical reasons, not political.

The ICAO’s approval came following the General Authority of Civil Aviation’s (GACA) announcement on Sunday to allocate emergency air corridors in the four Arab states for the passage of Qatari flights, in cases of closure of regional airspaces.

“The quartet’s move to allot nine international contingent air routes to Qatar does not mean that the air embargo on Doha has been lifted,” Minister of Aviation Sherif Fathi announced on Monday in a call-in during the “Every Day” talk show broadcasted on ON TV.

“Qatar Airways flights will not be permitted to land in any of the Arab quartet’s airports,” Fathi said after a meeting with the U.N.-led International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) on contingency routes was over.

The minister’s remarks came in view of recent media reports circulated widely online that the Arab countries boycotting Qatar are considering setting up nine air corridors for emergencies after Qatar had turned to the ICAO to take action against the air ban imposed on the emirate since June 5.

The joint working paper that was praised by the member countries includes opening nine additional airways to relieve pressure on existing routes over international waters. These actions were taken in collaboration with the ICAO regional office in Cairo to enhance air safety over international waters in the Middle East.

The special session in Montreal, which witnessed the participation of the delegations of the 189 member states of the ICAO, was held following a complaint submitted by Qatar under article 54 of the Convention of International Civil Aviation (Chicago 1944), which gives member states the right to question any matter related to the convention.

The meeting resulted in requesting the Secretariat to continue to implement the emergency plan, encouraging states to cooperate to ensure the implementation of technical solutions, and encouraging the Secretariat to update the information regularly and submit it to the council, beginning from the next session of the council.

Moreover, the meeting emphasized acknowledging the spirit of cooperation, providing good offices to facilitate any outstanding technical issues, and urging all member states of the ICAO to adhere to the spirit of the Chicago Convention and to cooperate to ensure the safety, security and efficiency of international civil aviation.

The Saudi delegation that attended the session expressed opposition to the Qatari statement, saying that it did not provide reasons for holding the hearing.

The Egyptian Civil Aviation Ministry said Tuesday that the ICAO has rejected a Qatari plea to condemn Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain for preventing its flights from landing in their airports.

The Egyptian delegation blocked the Qatari attempts to politicize the extraordinary session of the ICAO, which has to abide by technical aspects, the ministry added in a statement.

The joint action paper submitted by the four countries to enhance air safety over international waters in the Middle East region was welcomed and accepted during the session, the statement said.

Eight additional air corridors over the Mediterranean Sea were proposed by the four countries to ease the pressure on the current tracks, it added.

On June 5, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain suspended diplomatic ties with Qatar due to its support of terrorism. Flights between the four countries and Qatar were also suspended.



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