Qatar Airways Boeing-777-2DZLR-A7-BBF-1. Photo: Qatar Airways.

LONDON – Long-haul carrier Qatar Airways (QR) has today launched an international arbitration process, seeking at least US$5bn from four boycotting Arab countries.

The four countries blocked its flights coming in their airspace and markets, after years of simmering political disputes between the nations.

Qatar Airways Airbus A330-200. Credits: Filippo Martini-RomeAviationSpotters

Intentions from Qatar Airways

In a statement, the airline said the arbitration involved three separate agreements Qatar had with the boycotting nations. These are:

  • Organization of the Islamic Conference Investment Agreement.
  • The Arab Investment Agreement.
  • The bilateral investment treaty between the State of Qatar and Egypt.

Qatar Airways CEO Akbar al-Baker stated that the decision by the blockading states to prevent QR from operating in their countries was a “clear breach of civil aviation conventions and several binding agreements they are signatories. too.”

He also added, “The blockading states must be held accountable for their illegal actions in the aviation sector, which includes a failure to comply with their obligations under bilateral agreements, multilateral agreements, and international law.”

Akbar al Baker, Qatar Airways GCEO. Credits: Qatar Airways

No Reply from Blockading Countries

Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE did not respond to requests for comment.

In addition, Egyptian state media and officials did not immediately acknowledge Qatar’s comments.

The arbitration comes after Qatar earlier this month won a procedural dispute before the United Nations’ highest court.

The settled dispute allowed the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to rule in a case Doha brought over the boycott.

Egypt President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi – Credits: Author

About the Blockading Arab Nations

The four Arab nations cut ties with Qatar in 2017 in a political dispute fueled in part over Doha’s support for Islamist groups that they view as terrorists.

They also launched an economic boycott, stopping QR flights from using their airspace, closing off the small country’s sole land border with Saudi Arabia, and blocking its ships from using their seaports.

Alas, efforts to end the crisis, mediated by Kuwait’s now-hospitalized 91-year-old emir, have so far failed to resolve it.

Emirates, Qatar Airways and Etihad tails. Credits: Author

Qatar Airways Needs

Qatar Airways has been deeply hurt by the coronavirus pandemic and this and the political crisis.

To add insult to injury, QR has to see competitors Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways (EY) and the Dubai-based Emirates (EK) as major East-West carriers.