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PARIS: Qatar chief outlines impact of ban and its network plan

Qatar Airways chief executive Akbar Al Baker has indicated that around a tenth of the carrier's daily flights have been affected by the airspace ban implemented from 5 June by some Middle Eastern countries.

While he would not reveal how much the disruption had cost so far, Al Baker says he plans to use the spare capacity to accelerate new route launches.

"With more than 600 flights a day, 52 are affected that we cannot operate," he says.

Al Baker declined to give a figure for the cost of the blockade on the grounds that it is ongoing and its full impact will not be established until it ends.

"Every single flight that we are now operating has to take a detour. Extra flying time is anywhere between five minutes and two hours."

The spare capacity made available will be deployed elsewhere, says Al Baker. "We divert the capacity to new destinations that we were delaying opening and to increase frequencies to current destinations."

Launch of flights to Skopje and Sarajevo will be brought forward, and Ljubljana "is being looked at", says Al Baker. "We have many destinations we are looking to operate with our narrowbodies, including destinations in Iran that we had delayed because we were short of capacity."

Al Baker reiterates his call for ICAO to "take the driving seat" in the political row.

Qatar, he believes, is the victim of a "straight violation of the international air transit agreement and the 1944 Chicago convention on which Egypt, Bahrain and UAE are signatories".

He also argues that a flight information region (FIR) is not the sovereign property of a state. "It is a sovereign property of the international community. So no country in the world has the right to ban," he says.

As well as being strongly critical of the blockade, Al Baker is dismissive of claims by the UAE and Bahrain in their representations to ICAO that they have open airways: "That is a mere farce, because when we apply to pass through we are rejected, and we have documentation to prove it," he says.

Al Baker contends that "Bahrain has also violated the agreement it has signed with the state of Qatar allowing them to administer the airspace over Qatar".

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