What the Qatar ban means for tourism

What the Qatar ban means for tourism

Earlier this week, news broke of a severed relationship between Qatar and most of the Gulf states and other Arab countries.

As of Monday morning, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Yemen, Egypt, Bahrain, Libya, and the Maldives had cut ties with Qatar, accusing it of supporting terrorism and jeopardising security.

According to UAE’s Ministry’s Foreign of Affairs & International Cooperation, this means the “closure of UAE airspace and seaports for all Qataris in 24 hours and banning all Qatari means of transportation, coming to or leaving the UAE”, which has effectively seen Qatar Airways blocked from some of its biggest markets.

In addition to ceasing flights between these countries, Qatar Airways has been restricted to extremely limited airspace to continue its operations, having a very limited airspace relative to its size.

According to Skift, this means that Qatar Airways will no longer be able to fly to Europe and the US through Saudi and Egyptian airspace.

Ayham Kamel, Middle East and North Africa Director of Eurasia Group, told Skift, “Qatar Airways will need to adjust its business strategy to face the fact that its routes to Europe can no longer fly over Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

“The airline’s profitability will take a direct hit as new routes through Iran and Turkey will include longer journeys and lower demand.”

Basically, this translates to longer trip times, inefficient routings that avoid banned airspace, which means added fuel costs, and then compromised ticket sales.

This could spell very dire terms for Qatar, as it threatens to push anyone looking to fly to Europe and the US via Doha, Qatar, to looking at competitor Middle East airlines instead.

Meanwhile, this could see the likes of Emirates and Etihad actually benefit in the near and medium terms, boosting their bottom lines with the greater route options given the open airspace.

For the Australian market, it comes at a time of expansion down under, with Qatar Airways’ Sydney route launching just over a year ago, its direct Adelaide to Doha route in May 2016, and a spate of other Aussie routes designed to connect Australia to the rest of the world, all via Qatar.

A spokeswoman for Emirates told news.com.au there would be “no impacts” to the airline’s other routes, such as those that connect Australia with Europe and Asia via Dubai, as did Etihad’s spokesperson.

“All customers booked on Emirates’ flights to and from Doha will be provided with alternative options, including full refunds on unused tickets and rebooking to the nearest alternate Emirates destinations,” Emirates said in a statement.

Per Skift, a recent analyst note from geopolitical analysts Eurasia Group, stated, “The crisis will undermine the Qatari economy, increase inflation, raise the risk of a credit ratings downgrade, curtail regional banking activity, and damage Qatar Airways’ commercial prospects.”

Qatar Airways is keeping quiet on the media front, but announced on its website suspended all flights to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, UAE, Kingdom of Bahrain and Egypt until further notice.

“All customers booked on affected flights will be provided with alternative options, including the option of a full refund on any unused tickets and free rebooking to the nearest alternative Qatar Airways network destination,” it read.

Abu Dhabi’s state-owned Etihad Airways and Dubai’s Emirates Airline and Flydubai have cut all flights to and from Doha as of yesterday, until further notice.

At IATA’s annual meeting on Monday, CEO Alexandre de Juniac urged the countries to keep the borders open.

“Our industry depends on open borders so we would like the borders to be reopened to travel and trade, the sooner the better, ” he said.

Also, as Skift pointed out, the lack of connecting flights into Doha could be disastrous as the nation not only tries to position itself as a business hub, but also up its tourism ante in the lead up to its hosting of the World Cup in 2022.

Australian aviation expert Geoffrey Thomas told The Australian, “Flights to Australia and Asia fly over the UAE and Qatar Airways will be denied access to fly their aircraft over that airspace.

“They’ll have to do a significant diversion, which will add an hour, maybe more, to flight times.

“It will also significantly impact flight routes to other locations in the Middle East and such diversions might not be economically viable.”

Email the Travel Weekly team at traveldesk@travelweekly.com.au

    Latest comments
    1. Spells bad news for all arab airlines. This on back of 82% reduction in ek profit & ey disastrous investments in alitalia & air berlin worth something like $4billion now worth nothing. Some airline failures in the middle east coming up. Looks like Qantas will abandon ek partnership as well.

bahrain egypt emirates etihad libya maldives middle east qatar qatar airways saudi arabia uae yeme

Latest News

  • Aviation
  • Breaking News

REX becomes third airline to add Melbourne to Perth route

Budget airline Rex has unveiled a new Melbourne – Perth route, becoming the third airline to do so. Passengers will be able to fly the route five days a week from as little as $299 for an economy ticket. Rex is adding the schedule from its route as of today. Rex general manager for network […]

  • Health & Wellness

Sydney is named the world’s top running destination

In the last week, searches for ‘running shorts’ have increased by 82 per cent! Fitness holidays are in high demand with over 200K searches (Google, TikTok and Instagram) but of all the fitness travel trends ‘trail running’ is the peak of popularity with searches up 50 per cent since the start of 2024! So which […]

  • Aviation

Hawaiian Airlines celebrates 20 years of flying to Australia

Hawaiian Airlines marked 20 years of flying to Australia at an appropriately themed cocktail party for 150 guests at Hyde Bar, Pullman Quay Grand Circular Quay, featuring hula dancers, Hawaiian musicians, mai tais, mango martinis and leis. Among the guests were Sydney Airport Station Manager Kathy Mainerd who was also present for the very first […]

  • Aviation

How well did Singapore Airlines handle the aftermath of turbulence terror

It was a routine flight for the passengers and crew of SQ321, taking off from London en route to Singapore. But about 10 hours into the flight, with breakfast service underway, horror-struck, the plane entered an air pocket and dropped a suspected 6000 ft in just three minutes, killing one man and injuring several others. […]

  • Hotels
  • News

Hari Nair On How Expedia Is Tackling Hotel Industry Challenges Head On

Like its counterparts globally, the Australian hotel industry faces many challenges, particularly in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Rising operating costs, increased competition for talent, and changing traveller expectations have forced hotels to adapt quickly to remain competitive. At the recent EXPLORE conference in Las Vegas, Hari Nair, Global SVP & GM of Lodging […]

  • Attractions
  • Tourism

“I wanna try it!” – Internet goes WILD over the world’s largest plastic slide

If you are of a certain millennial age persuasion you may remember rainbow road on Nintendo’s Mario Kart. Evidently created by someone fresh from an acid trip, rainbow road allowed you to drive your kart merrily over a twisting, luminous, multi-coloured road suspended in space, all whilst listening to mildly aggressive techno music. If your […]

  • Aviation

Board Air Canada in Sydney’s CBD via a sleek Light Rail

Visitors flocking to Vivid Sydney will glide through the CBD in the newest addition to the Air Canada fleet – a sleek Light Rail tram wrapped in the airline’s unique livery. The Air Canada-themed tram is part of a new marketing campaign designed to put Air Canada in lights during the Vivid Sydney festival (25 […]

  • Destinations

Australia’s value to the UK visitor economy now the highest on record

A record number of Australians are visiting Britain and spending more than ever before, according to the latest statistics from Britain’s National Tourist Agency, VisitBritain. In 2023, Australia’s value to the visitor economy was the highest on record. Visitors from Australia spent a record-breaking £1.6 billion ($3.07 million) on their trips to the UK in […]

  • Tourism

Sensory Tourism Australia launches new travel experiences for vision-impaired international visitors

Sensory Tourism Australia launched its brand at the Australian Tourism Exchange in Melbourne this week and is set to provide inclusive and accessible products for vision-impaired international visitors. Sensory tourism is an emerging concept that presents destinations differently, with less emphasis on traditional sightseeing – created by the founders of Cocky Guides, an award-winning group […]

  • Cruise
  • News

Carnival Splendor to the rescue of Aussies and Kiwis left stranded in Vanuatu

Carnival Cruise Line’s Carnival Splendor has come to the aid of a group left stranded in Vanuatu, following the collapse of Air Vanuatu. The group, eight Australians and one New Zealander, were visiting the island of Santo when Air Vanuatu cancelled all flights, leaving them without a way home. Carnival Cruise Line responded by offering […]

  • Hotels

QT Singapore set to open in heritage Eastern Extension Telegraph building

Bookings open today for QT Singapore, in the historic former Eastern Extension Telegraph building along Robinson Road, the first property from QT Hotels & Resorts to open outside Australian and New Zealand. Previously Accor’s So Singapore, then the Hotel Telegraph, QT Singapore will officially launch on September 16 and will feature 134 rooms, ranging in […]

  • Hotels
  • News

Minor Hotels’ Anantara group reimagines the brand as its portfolio surpasses 50 properties

Anantara Hotels & Resorts is marking a significant milestone with a reimagined brand identity as recent openings across Europe, Middle East and Asia have propelled the brand portfolio beyond 50 properties. Part of the Minor Hotels group, the Anantara visual refresh takes an elegant, pared-back approach that enables each hotel’s unique character to shine – […]