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Middle East & AfricaEgypt follows Gulf allies in reopening airspace to Qatar

2 minutes read

An EgyptAir plane is parked next to other planes on the runway of the Cairo International Airport, amid concerns over the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Cairo, Egypt June 16, 2020. Picture taken June 16, 2020. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh

Egypt reopened its airspace to Qatari flights on Tuesday and will allow the resumption of air traffic between the two countries as part of a thaw in relations with the Gulf state, officials said.

The decision follows moves by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt to end a boycott in which they severed diplomatic, trade and travel ties with Qatar in 2017.

The lifting of Egypt's aviation ban allowed Qatari flights to cross Egyptian airspace and national carriers from both countries to submit flight operating schedules for approval, state newspaper Al-Ahram reported.

EgyptAir plans to run a daily flight to and from Doha, the aviation ministry said in a statement. An additional flight could be added if there was sufficient demand, it said.

EgyptAir's chairman told local TV that the carrier expected to resume flights to Qatar from Jan. 18. In addition to daily flights from Cairo, four flights a week would be operated from Alexandria to Doha, he said.

Qatar Airways was expected to restart flights between Doha and Egypt on Friday, pending approval, sources at Cairo airport said.

Goods transport between the two countries will also become possible under agreements that are set to be activated, aviation sources said.

Egypt and its Gulf allies imposed the embargo on Qatar over allegations it supports terrorism, allegations Doha denies.

Egypt expressed its support for regional reconciliation at a summit in Saudi Arabia last week but had stopped short of confirming concrete steps to end the boycott. read more

Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain have all announced the reopening of their airspace to Qatar.

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