MIAMI – Qatar Airways (QR) is set to drop its operational costs by around US$1.2bn, following the history Gulf reconciliation agreement. The airline’s flights have been reopened to Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt, and Bahrain airspace.

During the state television interview on Tuesday, Akbar al-Baker, the airline’s executive chairman said the reopening of airspace following the Gulf reconciliation, will have a positive impact on the company’s financial performance.

According to Akbar, Qatari flights will now take shorter routes. The national carrier will also need more time to return to the level of operations of 2019, before the pandemic.

Qatar Airways Cargo Boeing 777-FDZ. Photo: Peter Bakema.

The Gulf Blockade

Last month, QR signed a reconciliation agreement with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt. This comes after the Gulf blockade that started in 2017. According to Anadolu Agency, the Saudi-led bloc accused Qatar of “supporting terrorism” and severed diplomatic and trade relations with Doha. This condemned the blockade as an attempt to infringe on its sovereignty.

In regards to the financial damages caused by the Gulf blockade, QR demanded compensation from four blockading states in July 2020. The claim was based on ICAO space agreements that have been signed in the past. The Gulf airspace blockade dispute was ruled in favor of Qatar, by International Court of Justice (ICI).

Qatar Airways Airbus A350-900 taxiing via Hotel Malpensa Airport (MXP) Photo: Andrea Ongaro/Airways