Visitors to Qatar and passengers flying with oneworld member Qatar Airways are likely to face disruption after several neighbouring countries cut diplomatic ties with the small Arabian Peninsula nation.

Direct flights between Qatar and the affected countries are no longer allowed. Qatar Airways aircraft are also being forced to take longer, circuitous routings as they are now banned from flying through much of the airspace surrounding Doha.

Originally, four countries – Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates – cut diplomatic ties with Qatar on 5 June. However, numerous other nations have since taken similar action. These include Yemen, Libya, Maldives and Senegal.

The countries behind the coordinated blockade allege that the Qatari government has supported terrorist groups. Qatar strongly refutes the allegations, which it says “have no basis in fact” and are “unjustified”.

The fallout from the diplomatic crisis has been significant. On 6 June, Emirates, Etihad and Flydubai all suspended flights to Doha indefinitely. On the same date, Qatar Airways ceased operations to all airports in the UAE, Egypt, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. These destinations represented a significant amount of Qatar Airways’ regional network.

The implication for travellers is that it is no longer possible to fly directly between Doha and any of the above-listed countries. This has affected several of our members with bookings between Dubai and Doha on either Qatar Airways or Emirates. Many of these members have re-booked in light of the recent flight cancellations. Those with Qantas bookings have generally been offered new flights when calling the airline, and no change fees have been charged.

Had a few sectors of a 280k award coming up which included Qatar. Called up and was able to change these with no change fee. Luckily there were still a few options available.

If you’re planning to fly Qatar Airways to Europe, or anywhere else in the Middle East or Africa that is not affected by the flight ban, you can expect your flights to operate as scheduled. Your flights might take slightly longer due to the new airspace restrictions that Qatar Airways is subject to. Otherwise, there does not appear to be any cause for concern and the Australian government’s Smart Traveller website still recommends exercising “normal safety precautions” when travelling to Qatar.

One member visited Doha last week. As one might expect, the airport seemed unusually quiet.

In Doha on Tuesday, walking downtown and went past Air Egypt, had about 200 people out the front carrying on, I assume they wanted refunds, very quiet at the airport now that the other airlines don’t fly there.
In the first lounge when flying out they was only 5 people , not my fun when you can’t get a drink because of Ramadan

With Qatar Airways now unable to fly to several neighbouring countries, CEO Akbar Al Baker has vowed to re-deploy their excess aircraft by speeding up the airline’s long-haul expansion. The airline plans to open 24 new long-haul routes in the next year, including Doha to Canberra. Canberra services are likely to launch next year and flights are expected to operate via Sydney.

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