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Qatar Airways: Saudi airspace reopens after 3 years of restrictions

Qatar Airways: Saudi airspace reopens after 3 years of restrictions

Effective immediately, Qatar and Saudi Arabia have reopened land, sea, and air borders. As well as allowing them to re-open some ‘domestic’ middle eastern routes, this will mean that Qatar no longer has to avoid Saudi airspace, cutting significant flight times on a variety of routings.

This follows the recent opening of airspace between Saudi Arabia and Israel.


Back in 2017 the Gulf Blockade which closed land air and sea borders with Qatar was introduced by the states of Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. The blockade was a financial impost on Qatar Airways (and the Qatari government) as it necessitated increased mileage and flying time to avoid those countries airspace.

Qatar was accused of funding terrorism, which was the excuse for the embargo, although some believe it was because the Qatari-owned Al Jazeera media network applied its critical reporting to its Arabic neighbours.

a glass of champagne on a table

Good news for Qatar

Saudi Arabia has dropped its restrictions, but no agreements have been reached with other countries. Given Saudi is the largest country involved, the lifting of restrictions by them is the most significant, allowing Qatar to return some routes to ‘normal’.

Qatar has kept flying throughout the pandemic including continuing to provide a service between Europe and Australia. This agreement with Saudi will allow Qatar to return to shorter, more efficient routing, which should assist with the perverted economics of flying as few as 30 passengers between Abu Dhabi and Australia.

Why the change in heart?

Well, we don’t know, but there have been various threats and demands including compensation (US$5 billion), getting international bodies involved like the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), and even talks between soon to be ex-President Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jarad Kushner and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (you know, the one that orders the death of journalists) to try to resolve this matter.

a seat with a white pillow and a white pillow on the side

2PAXfly Takeout

This is another timely reminder to wear your seatbelt when seated. Holding you close to your seat will protect you from the sort of injuries sustained on this flight, when unsecured passengers flew to the ceiling of the aircraft, and then came crashing down once the ‘drop’ ceased.

The hope will be that this is an anomaly – a ‘freak accident’ in casual parlance. If it is a systemic error either mechanical or electronic, then this is a larger concern for the airlines that fly Boeing Dreamliner 787 aircraft. Let’s hope it isn’t. If it is, it will pile on the woes to Boeing’s existing stack.

Middle east politics are immensely complex, so lets just be happy at this softening of restrictions.

Qatar Airways are one of my favourite airlines, so I’m happy that they will be able to return to flying more efficiently in these troubled pandemic times where

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