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Jan 12 2021

Egypt reopens airspace to Qatar as Gulf allies continue lifting Doha blockade

Cairo reopened its airspace to Qatari aircraft on Tuesday, following similar moves by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain to end an embargo imposed on Doha’s flights in 2017.

“EgyptAir and Qatar Airways, as well as other Qatari airlines, can resume air traffic and send flight operating schedules to the Egyptian and Qatari civil aviation authorities for approval,” head of the Egyptian Civil Aviation Authority, Ashraf Noyer, announced on Tuesday.

The decision follows similar moves made by civil aviation authorities in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain, and comes as part of the reconciliation deal the quartet signed with Qatar during the Gulf Cooperation Council summit in the Saudi city of Al-Ula last week.

The deal formally ends a Saudi-led diplomatic and economic blockade that started in 2017, after the four allies accused Doha of supporting and financing terrorist groups. Qatar has denied the accusations.

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On Monday, the first flight from Doha to Riyadh in three years landed at King Khalid International Airport. Two days earlier, Saudi Arabia reopened its only land border with Qatar.

EgyptAir plans to run a daily flight to and from Doha, according to the aviation ministry, but a start date for the route has not yet been announced.

While Cairo supported regional reconciliation at a Saudi Arabia summit, it did not outline concrete steps to end the Doha boycott.

Qatar’s ambassador to Germany, Sheikh Abdulla bin Mohammed bin Saud Al-Thani, said on January 9 that the Al-Ula declaration put an end to the Gulf crisis, with the diplomat hailing Kuwaiti mediation efforts and US support for reaching an agreement.

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