Aerial bickering as UAE accuses Qatar of intercepting airliner

Aerial bickering as UAE accuses Qatar of intercepting airliner
2 min read
27 March, 2018
Gulf rivals are bickering again over alleged airspace violations, as the blockade of Qatar crisis shows no sign of de-escalation.
Qatar is barred from using the airspaces of its Gulf neighbours [Getty]
Gulf rivals are bickering over alleged airspace violations once again, as the blockade of Qatar crisis shows no sign of de-escalation.

On Monday, the UAE alleged two Qatari fighter jets "dangerously approached" two passenger flights, a claim repeated by Bahrain, another Gulf country boycotting Qatar along with Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

The UAE General Civil Aviation Authority claimed "two Qatari fighter jets dangerously approached two UAE-registered commercial aircraft while flying over Bahraini airspace today, in a flagrant and serious threat to civil aviation and air navigation safety".

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One of the aircraft was forced to "do an emergency manoeuvre to avoid colliding with the Qatari jets", the aviation authority said in a statement published by the official WAM news agency.

Bahrain's state-run news agency echoed the claim late on Monday, saying Qatari fighter jets passed underneath an Emirati plane with a tail number corresponding to an aircraft flown by the ruling family of Fujairah, one of the UAE's seven emirates.

However, Qatar has since denied the allegations. Qatar's Civil Aviation Authority (QCAA) instead said the Emirati statement "was an attempt to cover up the UAE's multiple breaches of Qatari airspace", in reference to incidents in January and March this year.

The QCAA stressed Qatar's commitment to the highest international aviation quality and safety standards.

This is only the latest such incident since the blockade on Qatar began last June, with Gulf states closing roads, shipping lanes and flight routes to and from Doha.

Qatar and the UAE have clashed repeatedly over alleged airspace violations this year, as a diplomatic crisis in the Gulf enters its tenth month.

Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain and Egypt allege Doha supports terrorism - a charge it categorically denies - and imposed sanctions last year.

The anti-Qatar bloc issued a list of 13 demands that Doha must abide to before the blockade is lifted.

The list of demands included shutting down media outlets Al Jazeera and London-based The New Arab, curbing relations with Iran and closing a Turkish military base in the emirate.

Qatar denies the allegations and accuses the bloc of aiming to incite regime change.

Qatar is barred from using the airspace of the four states, although UAE airlines are not technically banned from operating flights through Qatari airspace.

With agencies