Egypt reopens airspace to Qatar: State media

The lifting of Egypt’s aviation ban has allowed Qatari flights to cross Egyptian airspace, Al-Ahram state newspaper reports.

A Qatar Airways plane takes off at Hamad International Airport, as the country resumes international flights to Saudi Arabia, in Doha, Qatar, on January 11, 2021 [Ibraheem Al Omari/Reuters]

Egypt reopened its airspace to Qatari flights on Tuesday and will allow the resumption of flights between the two countries, aviation sources and state media said on Tuesday.

A Qatar Airways plane is due to land in Cairo on Friday, airport officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to speak to the media.

The lifting of Egypt’s aviation ban allowed Qatari flights to cross Egyptian airspace and national carriers from both countries to submit flight operating schedules for approval, Al-Ahram state newspaper reported.

Agreements set to be activated will also allow for goods transport between the two countries, according to sources from the civil aviation authority and aviation ministry.

Egypt and its Gulf allies – Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain – imposed an embargo on Qatar in June 2017 over allegations it supports “terrorism”.

Qatar has always denied the claims.

Map of Qatar, Bahrain, UAE, Saudi and Egypt
Map of Qatar, Bahrain, UAE, Saudi and Egypt [Al Jazeera]

The blockade was ended following a summit in Saudi Arabia last week, where Egypt expressed its support for regional reconciliation but had stopped short of announcing concrete steps to end the boycott.

After three and a half years of severed diplomatic and economic ties, the four boycotting countries signed a declaration with Qatar at the annual Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) summit last week to end the dispute.

Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain have also opened their airspace to Qatar.

The dispute had shattered the GCC and troubled the United States’ foreign policy in the region, including its efforts to isolate Iran. Last week’s breakthrough followed a final push by the outgoing Trump administration and Kuwait to mediate the dispute.

Saudi Arabia seeks to unify Arab ranks ahead of the incoming administration of President-elect Joe Biden, which is expected to take a firmer stand towards the kingdom and re-engage with Iran.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies