Indian airlines that fly to Doha – Jet Airways, IndiGo and Air India Express – had stopped using the UAE airspace for flights to Doha. Instead of flying over the UAE, the airlines had to use Pakistan’s and Iran’s airspace to fly to the Qatar-capital, resulting in increased flight durations.
This resulted in higher fuel burn and increased costs. “The duration of our flights to Doha will increase by an hour and a half or so in either direction. We will have to avoid the UAE airspace and fly over Pakistan and Iran instead,” said K Shyam Sundar, chief executive officer of Air India Express to Press Trust of India.
Restrictions on the usage of the UAE airspace arose when nine countries – Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt, Mauritius, Mauritiana, Yemen, Libyas eastern-based government and the Maldives – cut diplomatic ties with Qatar, accusing the latter of extremist support.
Yesterday, Jet Airways and IndiGo announced that they have resumed using the UAE airspace for flights to Doha, bringing operations back to normal for the two airlines. This development followed the clarification by the UAE’s General Civil Aviation Authority that the ban applied to airlines, aircraft and companies registered in Qatar.
Air India Express is yet to go back to its original route. The airline operates flights between Mumbai, Mangaluru, Kozhikode and Doha.
Jet Airways operates flights between Delhi, Kochi, Kozhikode, Mumbai, Thiruvananthapuram and Doha, while IndiGo operates flights between Delhi, Mumbai and the Qatari-capital.