The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has maintained its position on Qatar’s air restrictions by blockading countries saying it has always been for liberalisation of air space.
“IATA is a trade association and not a political organisation. Our position from the beginning: we understand state sovereignty over their air space, however, we are for liberalisation,” IATA’s airport, passenger, cargo and security vice president Nick Careen told reporters Monday on the sidelines of the 31st annual IATA Ground Handling Conference (IGHC), which runs until Wednesday at the Sheraton Doha Resort & Convention Hotel.
“We would like to see sooner rather than later the opportunity for customers and goods to be able to transport in an open fashion again,” he said.
IATA has been working with other organisations such as the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) to help resolve the current regional dispute, according to Careen.
Qatar is under blockade by the Saudi-led bloc (including the UAE, Bahrain, and Egypt) for nearly 11 months since June 5, 2017.
Careen noted that negotiations among concerned states have been taking place at the ICAO headquarters in Montreal, Canada, discussing about liberalisation or opening of air space.
IATA’s airport, passenger, cargo and security vice president Nick Careen speaking at the event
“We would help facilitate that, and we would participate in discussions on behalf of the industry in order to help to fix problems,” the IATA senior official stressed.
IATA director general and CEO Alexandre de Juniac also reiterated earlier the organisation’s position for the restoration of air connectivity to Qatar, which has been impacted due to the blockade.
“We have always said connectivity between Qatar and the rest of the world must be preserved and re-established,” de Juniac told Gulf Times.
Qatar Airways Group chief executive Akbar al-Baker has already called on ICAO to declare this blockade on the country “illegal”.
“This blockade is unprecedented and in direct contradiction to the convention that guarantees rights to civil overflight,” al-Baker said. “We are not a political body, we are an airline and this blockade has stripped us of the rights which are guaranteed to us.”
Despite the siege, Qatar Airways continued its expansion, opening new routes and increasing its frequencies to various destinations in its network around the world.
Meanwhile, the IGHC 2018 opening yesterday tackled three key priorities for the industry to support the growing demand for air travel: harmonising global standards to improve safety, improving collaboration between stakeholders, and developing talent.
"Effective ground operations are an essential part of the airline industry's efforts to meet the forecast growth in demand for air connectivity,” Careen said in a statement.
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