Aviation

What the Qatar ban means for tourism

Hannah Edensor

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.”



SEE WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING

One response to “What the Qatar ban means for tourism”

  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.

Leave a Reply

Cruise

Cunard reports biggest booking day in a decade

The rumours are that many Cunard employees went home that day with a big sack with a dollar sign on it after a massive day on the job.

Share

CommentComments

News

Travel just got easier: No more pre-departure tests for New Caledonia, Tahiti, Indonesia

What would make travel really easy for us is if a nice company out there would like to send a Travel Weekly reporter on a nice trip overseas (wink, wink, nudge, nudge @anyone please).

Share

CommentComments

Cruise

Dream Cruises ship resurrected for new cruise brand

Don’t just sit around dreaming of cruises, hop on this revived Dream Cruises ship for your first getaway in two years.

Share

CommentComments

Events

Collette wraps up its first travel forum in two years

The tour operator hosted top sellers, partners, key travel players and media friends (that’s us!) for poolside shenanigans in sunny Cairns.

Share

CommentComments

Wholesalers

“Travel is the great educator”: Collette CEO Dan Sullivan on why we need travel now more than ever

We spent the past few days sipping mojitos by the pool in Cairns… Oh, and attending Collette’s travel forum! Here’s proof we were listening.

Share

CommentComments

Travel Agents

“It’s our shout”: Flight Centre is giving away free holidays!

The travel giant is giving away 40 holidays to celebrate its 40th Birthday! Nobody tell them that it’s usually the other way around…

Share

CommentComments

Hotels

QT Newcastle signature restaurant and bar revealed!

It might seem like we’re calling Newcastle a ‘cutie’ but rest assured, our cutest NSW city award still goes to Griffith.

Share

CommentComments

Events

Australian Tourism Exchange 2022 concluded and next year’s location revealed!

The rumours are that next year’s event will have twice as many arancini balls and half the day will be dedicated to playing Mario Kart. Bear in mind our source for this was a 6 year old boy…

Share

CommentComments

Destinations

Japan gets closer to reopening its border with experimental group tours

Don’t worry, the fact that the tours are operating is what makes them experimental. You won’t have to remember your high school science skills for a trip to Japan (at least we don’t think so).

Share

CommentComments

Travel Agents

Do you want to explore South Australia? Complete a few training modules for your chance at a famil!

The team at South Australian Tourism Commission has your next holiday sorted with a famil offering for travel agents and product managers.

Share

CommentComments

Tourism

ATEC tickled pink with Labor Party tourism funding promise

As professional journalists, we at Travel Weekly remain completely unbiased when it comes to political matters. However, we’re just going to leave this here…

Share

CommentComments

Tourism

“The time is right”: industry legend, Barry Mayo, retires after 60+ years in travel

We think we speak for everyone when we say we can’t imagine an Australian travel industry without this industry stalwart!

Share

CommentComments