Qatar Airways said today that it was largely unaffected by the decision of several Arab countries to ban the Doha-based carrier from using their airspace. “Qatar Airways’ global operations continue to run smoothly, with the vast majority of our network unaffected by the current circumstances,” said chief executive Akbar Al- Baker. The Qatari carrier released a statement saying it had operated some 1,200 flights in the past week, 90 percent of which took off within 15 minutes of their scheduled departure times. Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt are among several countries that suspended ties with Qatar last week, including the suspension of all flights to and from Doha and an airspace ban on Qatar Airways.
Yesterday, the four Arab countries said the air embargo only applies to airlines from Qatar or registered there. Saudi Arabia and its allies accuse gas-rich Doha of supporting Islamist extremists in what is the worst crisis to grip the Gulf in years. Qatar denies the allegations. Earlier this week, Qatar Airways announced profits of $ 540 million in the fiscal year which ended in March. But analysts warn the profitable carrier could take a hit should the diplomatic crisis drag out. Qatar Airways on June 7 announced the cancelation of all flights into Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the UAE and Bahrain, just weeks after having been hit by a new US travel ban on laptops and tablets in passenger cabins.