With some Gulf countries imposing airspace restrictions on flights to and from Doha, Union Minister Jayant Sinha today said the government is working with airlines on how best to handle the flight operations, including emergency landings. In a major face-off in the Gulf region, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and some other countries have cut ties with Qatar, accusing the latter of extending support to extremists. The development has impacted flight operations in the region with airspace restrictions in place and the UAE imposing curbs on flights to and from Doha using its airspace. Sinha, who is the Minister of State for Civil Aviation, said at this stage, the government is working with airlines on what are the best routes given the situation in the Middle East and also “what (can be) the emergency landing airports (in the region)”. “We are working with our airlines as well as other international airlines to see how best we can handle flight operations,” he said on the sidelines of an event here.
Noting that there is inconvenience for all passengers flying to that region, Sinha said, “Our hope is that things will settle down soon”. Jet Airways, Air India Express and IndiGo are now operating flights to Qatar’s capital Doha through Pakistan and Iran airspace following restrictions imposed by the UAE. With the new route, travel time would increase due to longer flight duration and operational costs would also spike as more fuel is used. As many as seven countries — Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt, Yemen, Libya’s eastern-based government and the Maldives — have severed diplomatic ties with Qatar.