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Satyendra Pathak
International aviation agencies are working on a regular basis for the restoration of Qatar's air link with neighbouring countries that have barred Qatar Airways from using their airspace, a senior official of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) said on Monday.
Talking to Qatar Tribune on the sidelines of the 31st IATA Ground Handling Conference in Doha, IATA Senior Vice President Nick Careen said IATA was working with other global organisations like United Nations' International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) to lift restrictions on air routes stemming from the Gulf crisis.
"ICAO is the place where the matter has to be resolved. We are participating in discussions with ICAO on behalf of our industry in order to fix the problem. Of course, we accept that sovereign countries have the right over their airspace. But we are for liberalisation and we would like to see sooner rather than later that customers and goods are able to transfer in an open fashion again," Careen said.
Connectivity with Qatar must be restored as quickly as possible, he said, adding the ongoing important IATA event in Doha would put spotlight on this issue.
"Our position on this issue has been clear from the very beginning. We want an amicable solution to this crisis and the ongoing IATA conference in Doha would help contribute to that," Careen noted.
"I think the wider ban and the actual blockade is something political and does not concern aviation. Unfortunately, it is adversely impacting aviation. Extensive efforts are being made to find a solution to this crisis," Careen said.
Despite the blockade, he said, Qatar Airways has gone ahead with its robust expansion plans which make it special compared to other airlines in the region.
Alex Macheras, an aviation analyst, said the Gulf crisis has exposed the lack of enforcement from international organisations like ICAO as this is the first time such an issue has come across it since it came into existence 70 years ago.
œICAO has never dealt with such a situation. They do not take sides. They want to assess the situation. They know that as long as each state is abiding by the international laws, every thing would be fine. In this blockade, we have states which are openly violating international aviation law. The UAE champion themselves as the leader of open skies, they are the ones who closed their airspace, contradicting their own statements, ? Macheras said.
The ban has not affected Qatar Airways too much apart from lost market in Saudi Arabia and the UAE, he said.
œThe best thing that Qatar Airways did in this situation was they came out with an alternative plan instead of complaining about the blockade. They literally have grown massively with new routes in Asia and other places after the blockade, ? Macheras said. œThere are no aircraft parked on the ground. In fact, Qatar Airways is short of aircraft, ? he added.
This conference will help mobilise support in favour of Qatar by educating IATA members about the current situation.
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