Global aviation bloc ICAO discusses air traffic safety amid Qatar boycott

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On Friday, top ICAO officials briefed members of the agency's governing council on the safety and efficiency of air traffic in the Middle East region.

During the briefing, which was closed to media and the public, members were told that a diplomatic rift between Qatar and Arab states did not cause serious safety concerns because aircraft operated by non-Qatar carriers could still fly to Doha, two sources familiar with the matter said.


Nevertheless, while no decision was reached at the briefing, ICAO will still hold future talks to discuss new contingency routes for Qatar Airways, said the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the meeting was confidential.

The UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Egypt cut ties with Qatar, forcing Qatar Airways to fly longer, more expensive routes over Iran. The four countries accuse Qatar of supporting terrorism and have made various demands on Doha. Qatar denies the allegations.

ICAO's 36-state governing council can act to settle the overflights issue presented by Qatar, but such interventions are rare and time-consuming because the specialized United Nations agency usually negotiates disputes diplomatically through consensus.

ICAO cannot impose rules on states, but regulators from its 191-member countries almost always adopt and enforce its international aviation standards.

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