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Qatar to challenge airspace blockade at UN special hearing

Vast stretches of regional airspace have been closed to Qatari aircraft. [Getty

Date of publication: 25 June, 2017

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The UN aviation agency will hold a special hearing on June 30. Qatar requested that the body intervene after a Saudi-led bloc closed its airspace to flights from Doha.

The United Nations aviation agency will hold a special hearing on June 30 after Qatar requested that the UN body intervene in the diplomatic crisis which has seen a Saudi-led bloc close its airspace to flights from Doha.

Qatari transport minister Jassim Saif Al Sulaiti told Reuters that the Gulf state wants the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to open international air routes over Gulf waters currently managed by the UAE.

The UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Egypt have all closed their airspace to Qatar following a decision to sever ties with the country earlier in June.

Six airlines owned by Gulf nations or their allies have cancelled flights to Qatar in the wake of the diplomatic row.

A decision on Friday by the Montreal-based ICAO to a hold a briefing comes after Qatar Airways chief executive Akbar Al-Baker expressed concerns that the UN agency was not working quickly enough to solve the crisis.

Al Sulaiti said that Qatar is hoping to "get more routes for Qatar" and said he trusted the UN body to resolve the dispute and "take action very quickly," Reuters reported.

The ICAO was created in 1944 after the United States invited more than 50 allies to agree to a common air navigation system.

The international body's decision to intervene in the Gulf airspace blockade is a rare instance in attempting to mediate disputes between states.

The ICAO cannot impose rule on states but its 191 member countries normally enforce its international aviation standards.

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