In short: The situation is volatile and constantly changing, even by the hour. Military interception has been reported so the best advice is to be vigilant with sticking to assigned routes for all operations around the region.
The airspace blockade of Qatar has been ongoing since June 2017 with little end in sight.
But over the past few months, tensions have been escalating;
- A Saudi newspaper reports of a potential project to attempt to turn Qatar into an island!
- The UAE General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) has lodged a complaint with ICAO after an incident last week in which two Qatari jets came “dangerously close” to two civilian aircraft from the UAE. Qatar’s Civil Aviation Authority (QCAA) said the Emirati statement was an attempt to cover up the UAE’s multiple breaches of Qatari airspace.
- The Kingdom of Bahrain has also officially complained to ICAO alleging that “two Qatari warplanes were detected flying at an altitude of 30,000 feet above the international waters, within Bahrain Flight Information Region (FIR) without any prior authorization. The two fighters flew deliberately under a UAE Airbus A320, with ident/call sign of A6HMS, en route from Fujairah to Rome.”
- Qatar has itself complained to the UN Security Council against Bahrain, accusing a fighter jet belonging to Bahrain of violating its airspace at the weekend.
- In response, ICAO is working to organise a regional meeting for Gulf civil aviation and air traffic authorities in the next few weeks, as part of broader efforts to improve communication.
Here is the latest operational information we have:
A reminder that Qatar does not have its own FIR. It sits entirely within the Bahrain FIR- you will find Qatar airspace NOTAMs under OBBB. The Doha TMA extends SFC to FL245. Above this sits the Bahrain UIR.
Bahrain and Egypt have relaxed some of their initial restrictions. Saudi and UAE have not.
The current state of play as of 6 April 2018.
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Have you been through the region recently? Can you provide an update?
Some fascinating reporting about what this whole blockade is all about.
- “How a ransom for Royal falconers reshaped the Middle East” – New York Times
- “What the falcons up with Qatar?” – NPR Podcast