Qatar Airways Group chief executive Akbar Al Baker has hailed the European Union (EU) for the bloc’s support since the economic “blockade” waged on Qatar by fellow Gulf countries since mid-2017.
Between 5 and 6 June 2017, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Yemen, Egypt, the Maldives and Bahrain all separately announced that they were cutting diplomatic ties with Qatar and banned Qatari aircraft and ships from entering their airspace and sea routes along with Saudi Arabia blocking the only land crossing.
Speaking in Brussels this week, where he met with European Parliament members and top decision makers of the European Commission, Al Baker said: “The support extended to our country and airline by top European decision makers is truly valued and appreciated.
“We come here today in the spirit of pursuing enhanced aviation opportunities for our industries and businesses, more options for travellers, and long-term prosperity for our economies, and I have no doubt we will succeed.
“We appreciate the openness and understanding demonstrated by the EU. We also thank the EU for the flexibility and support provided to the State of Qatar under the current blockade.”
This visit came as Qatar and the EU are close to completing the final stage of the EU-Qatar Comprehensive Air Transport Agreement, as they look at how they can potentially further grow and develop their ties.
With 617 weekly flights to Europe, Qatar Airways flies an average of 91,000 passengers a week to more than 50 key cities in the region. Over the last 18 months, the airline has further enhanced this by launching 15 new routes to Europe, including Nice, Dublin, Malaga, Prague and London Gatwick.
Further route launches are planned in the next year including Lisbon and Valletta, which will take the total number of destinations in Europe up to 56.