Qatar Diplomatic Crisis Ensnares Ocean Carriers, Ports, Qatar Airways
After the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Egypt broke diplomatic ties with Qatar over the weekend, global ocean carriers have felt the reverberations, as have regional ports and Qatar Airways.
The four Arab governments also cut off air, sea, and land access to Qatar over what they described as Doha’s support for “terrorist groups aiming to destabilize the region.” Qatari diplomats in UAE were given 48 hours to exit the country, while tourists had 14 days to leave.
The global port operator DP World, based in the UAE, yesterday banned Qatar flag vessels from UAE ports. That announcement came a day after the UAE port of Fujairah barred all Qatari flag ships from calling on its port.
“Vessels with the flag of Qatar or vessels destined to or arriving from Qatar are not allowed to call at any DP World terminals in the UAE until further notice,” DP World said in a statement.
The crisis in the Persian Gulf has also presented logistics challenges to global ocean carriers like Maersk, Evergreen Line, and OOCL, all of which have announced they are no longer accepting cargo bound for Qatar, at least for now. The carriers normally transship cargo bound for or originating in Qatar, using third-party feeder vessels, through the UAE port of Jebel Ali because ports in Qatar lack deep enough water to handle to large containerships operated by the global giants. But the cutoff in commerce between the UAE and Qatar makes that move impossible.
According to a report on Bloomberg, Maersk is now looking for workarounds to get cargo to and from cargo without recourse to UAE ports.
On the air front, Qatar Airways tweeted this morning that everything is “business as usual.”
— Qatar Airways (@qatarairways) June 7, 2017
The airline’s global position may have remained unscathed but its regional operations have taken a hit, according to local news reports, as Qatar’s four Arab foes have closed their airspaces to Qatar Airways and Saudi Arabia and UAE authorities have shuttered Qatar Airways offices in those countries.
“Losing Saudi, Bahrain, and UAE airspace would effectively ground Qatar Airways,” according to a report from the CAPA Center for Aviation, because Qatar is almost surrounded by Bahrain airspace.
That assessment might be slightly overblown, as Bahrain announced it would allow flights by Qatari aircraft through its airspace on a single air route. Still, that move subjects Qatar Airways to heavy air-traffic congestion to and from its home base in Doha.
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