EXCLUSIVE: Expert says Qatar will survive closure of airspaces

07 June 2017

Average daily flights passing Iran’s airspace increased by 950 on 6 June

Qatar Airways’ huge international network will allow it to survive the closure of its GCC neighbours’ airspaces, according to an industry expert.

“It operates the most fuel-efficient fleet, with [Boeing] 777s, 787s, [and Airbus] A350s and some A380s,” says Saj Ahmad, chief analyst at UK-based StrategicAero Research. “Those jets can haul extra fuel to circumvent airspace the airline cannot operate in.”

The obvious bigger challenge for the airline now would be how to handle the intra-GCC routes served by its smaller fleet of A320s.

Qatar Airways has 39 A320-200s, eight A321-200s and 13 A330-200s.

“Many [of these plane models] will have to be parked and that incurs huge costs the longer this spat continues,” says Ahmed. “Doha and Hamad International airport do not have the footprint to stockpile such jets for long either, so Qatar will want to ensure this impasse is dealt with swiftly.”

The airline’s total fleet includes 174 passenger planes, 20 cargo planes and nine executive jets.

Iran said the average daily flights passing through its airspace increased from 150 to 950 as of 6 June, the first day that airspaces in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE were shut down to Qatari air traffic.

Qatar Airways has arranged for three charter flights to carry stranded passengers in Jeddah to Muscat on 6 June. 

The passengers will fly to Doha from Muscat. Oman and Kuwait have kept their airspaces open to Qatar. 

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