Qatar Airways seeks at least $5 billion in compensation from Saudi, UAE, Bahrain, Egypt

Qatar airways

Qatar Airways has launched an international arbitration seeking at least $5bn from four Arab countries as compensation for blocking the airline from their airspace for the past three years.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt had imposed a ban on the airline since June 2017 when they cut all ties with Qatar and brought upon an air, land and sea blockade on it, over accusations of supporting “terrorism”.

Doha denied the charges alleging that the quartet aims to infringe on its sovereignty. The airline said it has made substantial investments in these four countries in order to serve hundreds of thousands of passengers and to transport tens of thousands of tonnes of cargo.

The carrier is seeking full compensation for these damages in four investment arbitrations brought under three separate entities namely the OIC Investment Agreement, the Arab Investment Agreement and the bilateral investment treaty between Qatar and Egypt.

Qatar Airways said in a statement on Wednesday that the four countries, without prior warning, took collective measures to specifically target the carrier with the aim of shuttering its operations in the four countries, destroying the value of its investments and causing widespread damage to its global operations. These measures included, but were not limited to, closing their airspace and airports to Qatar Airways’ aircraft and revoking its licenses and permits to operate in these four countries.

“The decision by the blockading states to prevent Qatar Airways from operating in their countries and flying over their airspace is a clear breach of civil aviation conventions and several binding agreements they are signatories to,” Akbar al-Baker, Qatar Airways CEO, said.

“After more than three years of efforts to resolve the crisis amicably through dialogue yielded no results, we have taken the decision to issue Notices of Arbitration and pursue all legal remedies to protect our rights and secure full compensation for the violations,” he said.

“The blockading states must be held accountable for their illegal actions in the aviation sector, which includes a failure to comply with their obligations under bilateral agreements, multilateral agreements and international law,” he added.