Qatar Airways says the tense regional conflict that has seen the country cut off from its Arab neighbors hasn’t affected transfer travel through its busy international airport from places like Atlanta.
Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates severed diplomatic ties and travel to Qatar June 5 in an effort to discourage the tiny, gas-rich nation from what they say is its ongoing financing of terrorism around the region.
Doha’s Hamad International Airport has become a key air hub as state-backed Qatar Airways has expanded nonstop service to far-flung destinations around the world. The expansion has drawn the ire of U.S. carriers including Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines, which says government subsidies enable it to compete unfairly on price.
Qatar Airways began nonstop service from Atlanta to Doha almost exactly a year ago — June 3 — and has aimed to position itself as the preferred airline from Atlanta to the Indian subcontinent in absence of a nonstop route from the Southeast U.S.
A spokesperson told Global Atlanta in a statement that travel onward from Doha hadn’t been affected by a standoff that Qatar says amounts to a blockade. Saudi Arabia has closed Qatar’s only land border, leading to runs on the grocery stores in the country. Other parties in the spat have blocked Qatar Airways from using their airspace. News reports indicated that Qatar Airways is increasingly flying over Iran and Turkey.
The airline didn’t answer questions directly, but provided this statement to Global Atlanta through spokesperson:
“Qatar Airways operations are running as normal with no disruptions to flights with the exception of those to the four countries Qatar Airways has been restricted to fly to. All affected passengers in Doha on route to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia have been assisted with alternative onward travel arrangements. At Qatar Airways, our passengers remain our utmost priority and we will continue to ensure they have a seamless journey to their final destinations.”
The airline’s website shows slight adjustments in flight times to New Zealand and Australia but didn’t attribute those to the “blockade.”
Both Qatar Airways and Turkish Airlines have faced crises since starting Atlanta flights last year. Just a month after the Turkish launch, the Istanbul airport was hit with two suicide bombings that caught some Atlanta travelers in the crossfire.
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Find contact information for the airline’s Atlanta office here.