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Countries boycotting Qatar want flying-rights case moved to ICJ

[DUBAI] A Saudi-led bloc is seeking to move a case on reopening its airspace to Qatari planes to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) from a United Nations aviation agency.

Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt say the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) "was not competent to consider that dispute," the Saudi Press Agency reported.

The four Arab nations cut diplomatic and transport links with Qatar in June last year, accusing the country of supporting terrorism and cozying up to Iran, charges Qatar denies. They also barred Qatar-registered planes from their airspace.

Qatar filed a case with the ICAO, seeking to force the boycotting countries to reopen their airspace using a dispute resolution mechanism in the Chicago Convention. The Montreal-headquartered ICAO's council agreed to grant Qatar the opportunity to hear the case.

The four nations "believe that the organisation has fully exercised its technical competence" in finding alternative routes for Qatari aircraft, according to the Saudi Press Agency.

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Qatar Airways Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker said in March that the boycott will push the carrier to a "very large loss," and added that the airline will need to find new streams of financing to survive since it has no access to the equivalent of US Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.


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