QATAR AIRWAYS BRINGS STRANDED PASSENGERS TO DOHA AS SEVERAL GCC COUNTRIES CLOSE THEIR AIRSPACE FOR THE AIRLINE
(Posted 07th June 2017)
When the political crisis in the Gulf unfolded two days ago were several countries swift to lash out first at Qatar Airways as a soft target. In some cases this prompted open allegations that it was to a large part inspired by the respective governments intent to give their own airlines, Emirates, Etihad, FlyDubai and Air Arabia a boost – hoping that making life difficult for Qatar Airways will start a migration of passengers away from the five star airline to their own national and private carriers.
The plot however seems to have failed as Qatar Airways flights, finding much of the airspace around Qatar a sudden no go zone, was prompt to use Iranian airspace for departing and arriving flights, ensuring that connecting flights were not missed by passengers staying loyal to their airline of choice.
In what can only be described as a major logistical success were hundreds of passengers stranded in Saudi Arabia – the failure of the Saudi authorities to provide any support to them speaks volumes vis a vis KSA’s respect for human rights and dignity – flown by chartered aircraft to Muscat from where Qatar Airways aircraft then flew them to Doha, and where necessary put them on onward connecting flights.
The flights, chartered on Oman Air, departed King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah at 16:00, 22:00 and 23:00 local (KSA) time on Tuesday and landed in Muscat. Connecting Qatar Airways flights then transported the passengers from Muscat onward to Doha.
The airline has organised an additional flight with Kuwait Airlines on Wednesday to transport remaining passengers in KSA to Doha via Kuwait. The flight will depart at 19:15 local (KSA) time on Wednesday. Qatar Airways asks all passengers to report to the airport three hours before the flight.
Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive Mr. Akbar Al Baker, who ended his participation in the 73rd IATA Annual General Meeting in Cancun / Mexico when the crisis struck, meanwhile returned home to Doha and said: ‘Qatar Airways has worked tirelessly to ensure that all passengers were brought home safely to Doha within 24 hours of the flight cancellations. We have provided additional crew on the ground to ensure that all passengers are being cared for. Our global operations are continuing to run smoothly and remain unaffected. Our focus is on supporting our passengers and ensuring that we continue to deliver our award-winning service. As far as we are concerned, it is business as usual‘.
The airline said it is supporting its staff affected by the situation in KSA, the UAE, the Kingdom of Bahrain and Egypt where in particular in Saudi Arabia, probably in an enraged reaction that Qatar Airways managed to resolve the logistical challenges thrown at them, the government decreed that the airline offices must be closed while also revoking all operating permits for the airline.
All passengers booked on affected flights will be provided with alternative options, including the option of a full refund on any unused tickets and free rebooking to the nearest alternative Qatar Airways network destination.
Flights by Qatar Airways to the airline’s East African destinations like Entebbe and Kigali but also Nairobi, Kilimanjaro, Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar, are said to be operating as usual after the detours through Iranian airspace were factored into the flying schedules.
Qatar Airways has also opened a web link on their main site for passengers affected by this unfortunate if not unprecedented situation that hitherto partner states under the Gulf Cooperation Council lashed out in such a fashion to economically strangle the State of Qatar by imposing an air and land embargo.
Frequently asked questions over the past two days have also received added attention via the following web link:http://support.qatarairways.com/hc/en-us/sections/115002369667-FAQs
It is also recommended to follow the airline’s social media channels for regular updates posted there:
The airline’s office in Kampala but across Eastern Africa has written to their passengers as follows:
And on a personal note, I have received dozens of messages and mails if I would personally fly with Qatar Airways under the circumstances and responded on Twitter with an emphatic YES.
Neither safety nor service levels nor global reach was in any way impacted by the decision of Qatar’s neighbours to break off diplomatic relations and close their airspace for Qatar Airways. This can only be described as a blatant attempt to force through blackmail political submission to their own agendas, which in the case of Saudi Arabia is nothing less than suspect to start with.
Watch this space for future updates on this hot aviation topic which however also showed the mettle of QR as they continue to work flat out to minimize any inconvenience for their passengers while the situation is ongoing.