The world is changing at the blink of an eye. In a sudden, significant move that redefined the geopolitical landscape of Middle East; Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, UAE, Libya, Yemen, Maldives and Egypt cut off ties with Qatar. And as a result of the diplomatic turmoil in the region, Emirates, Etihad, Saudi Arabian Airlines, Bahrain’s Gulf Air, Egypt Air, flyDubai and Air Arabia have suspended all flights to and from Doha. In response, Qatar Airways said on its official website that it had suspended all flights to Saudi Arabia UAE, Bahrain and Egypt. Although, all the affected passengers on Etihad and Emirates have been assured full support, this move means that Doha will no longer act as a transit hub for connecting flights from these countries.
So what does this mean for you and your travel plans?
If you already have tickets …
If you have booked a flight with Qatar Airways, as long as your ultimate destination is not one of the 7 countries who have severed ties with Qatar, you should be ok to fly in and out of Qatar to your ultimate destination. Your flight time may be longer due to flight path changes, but otherwise, so far Qatar airways has been able to honour it’s flight commitments.
Major Indian carriers– Jet Airways, Indigo, Air India announced that their flights to Doha from India remain unaffected. While, in the immediate aftermath, Indian airlines reported some disruptions in terms of change in flight route, no flight cancellations have been reported.
So you may keep your booking intact and just monitor the situation.
If you are planning to buy tickets…
Certain level of uncertainty still prevails as to the schedules and prices of future flights to Doha from India.
As per a Times of India report, UAE said they will let Indian carriers—Jet Airways, AI Express, IndiGo cross its airspace while flying India–Doha only with prior permission. The alternative route goes via Iran which not only means longer travel time but also higher prices. And in the event of any emergency, flights on India-Doha routes cannot use Bahrain as their alternative airport anymore, Iran will be their best bet, which is further away.
Clearly, it makes sense to avoid booking a flight path that involves Doha, at this time, if possible. As things stand, the cheapest flights to the ME region are anyway to Dubai or AbuDhabi and not Doha.
If you need to travel to or via Doha, then it may be advisable to book an Indian airline such as Indigo or Air India for this flight as they are likely to be less affected by this turmoil. At the moment, Indigo is anyway significantly cheaper than Qatar Airways for flights to Doha. Keep the layover time of a minimum of 3 hours if you are passing through Doha.
The situation is still unfolding, so do keep an eye on the news and certainly call your airline atleast 48 hours before your departure to confirm the schedule and get updates on any requirements.