Qatar Airways A380 takeoff DOH
A Qatar Airways A380 takes off from Doha. Photo: Qatar Airways.

Qatar Airways has reinstated flights to Saudi Arabia after the embargo preventing Qatari airlines from entering the airspace of four countries was revoked. It reportedly follows months of mediation efforts by Kuwait and the United States.

In 2017, the countries of Bahrain, Saudia Arabia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) all cut diplomatic ties with Qatar. As a result, Qatar Airways was no longer allowed to fly to those four countries. Airlines from those countries, including Emirates and Etihad Airways, were likewise blocked from flying to Qatar.

Qatar Airways was also prevented from flying over any of those countries, forcing some of the airline’s flights to take circuitious routes around several neighbouring countries. With overflight rights restored, Qatar Airways can now shave over an hour off the flight times of some routes between Doha and Africa or South America. On routes like Lagos-Doha, the time saving is around two hours per flight!

QR1374 route map
A circuitous Qatar Airways flight path from Windhoek to Doha in 2019, avoiding Saudi Arabia and UAE airspace (and adding an hour to the flight duration). Photo: Matt Graham.

Qatar Airways and Saudia have already reinstated flights between Doha and Riyadh, the Saudi capital. Other routes including Jeddah-Doha and Dammam-Doha will follow this week.

Anna.aero estimates that up to 1,400 weekly flights could eventually return, although Qatar’s current quarantine requirements for arriving international passengers could dampen initial demand.

Until now, passengers travelling to Doha from Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain or the UAE were forced to transit via a third country such as Oman or Kuwait.

In 2020, the International Court of Justice in The Hague ruled that Qatar had the right to challenge the airspace restrictions imposed by the blockade countries before the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO). But with the embargo now lifted and borders reopened, Qatar will no longer need to resort to such action.

Join the discussion on the Australian Frequent Flyer forum: ICJ rules Qatar blockade illegal.

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Matt Graham
The editor of Australian Frequent Flyer, Matt's passion for travel has taken him to over 60 countries… with the help of frequent flyer points, of course!
Matt's favourite destinations (so far) are Germany, Brazil, New Zealand & Kazakhstan. His interests include economics, aviation & foreign languages, and he has a soft spot for good food and red wine.

You can contact Matt at [email protected]