Emirates Airlines and Etihad Airways— two of the three biggest carriers in the Middle East, and the two largest airlines in the United Arab Emirates—have suspended flights to Qatar over the country’s alleged support for terrorist groups.
The move comes in the wake of a second terror attack against the UK inside a month, and after six Gulf nations—Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt, Libya, Yemen and the UAE—announced they have cut diplomatic ties with Qatar, including air and sea traffic to Doha.
It’s a surprising move given the religious and cultural ties between many of those countries, as well as the fact that Emirates, Etihad and Qatar airlines have banded together in the Open Skies Agreements fight against the U.S.’ big three of American, Delta and United.
Emirates, Etihad and Qatar offer daily, and sometimes hourly, flights between Doha in Qatar and the UAE.
In a statement on its website, Etihad said it will suspend all flights to and from Doha beginning June 5 until further notice. Emirates, in a separate statement, said its suspension of flights to Qatar begins on Tuesday, June 6.
Both carriers noted that “All customers who are booked on flights to and from Doha are being provided with alternative options, including full refunds on unused tickets and free rebooking to the nearest alternate destinations.”
Budget carrier FlyDubai also canceled service to Qatar effective June 6, as did Bahrain national carrier Gulf Air, Air Arabia and Saudia Airlines.
In response to the severing of diplomatic ties, Qatar said on its official website that all flights to Saudi Arabia from Doha are now suspended.