CAIRO – Saudi Arabia aviation authorities on Tuesday ordered the closure of Qatar Airways offices and revoked its licenses, just a day after the government severed diplomatic ties with the tiny gas-rich emirate it accuses of supporting terrorism and Iran.
The state-run Saudi Press Agency reported that the General Authority of Civil Aviation “has decided to cancel all licenses granted to Qatar Airways, close all its offices in the Kingdom within 48 hours from the date of the announcement and withdraw the licenses granted by the Authority to all Qatar Airways employees.”
On Monday, the government banned all Qatari airlines and aircraft from landing at kingdom’s airports or crossing its airspace, as did Saudi allies Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates.
They accused Qatar of supporting terrorist campaigns against Bahrain and of destabilizing the region by backing Iran and supporting terrorists and extremists elsewhere — charges which Qatar denies.
Launched in 1997, Qatar Airways, which is wholly owned by the Qatari government, connects more than 150 destinations daily and employs more than 40,000 people worldwide.
The airline said on its website that all its flights to and from Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain have been canceled until further notice. It said the same applies to its flights to and Egypt, which also severed diplomatic ties with Qatar.
Passengers holding a confirmed Qatar Airways ticket to any of the four countries between Monday and Tuesday were permitted to rebook their flights up to 30 days after their original departure date.
Flights to Europe and the Americas “are currently not affected,” the airline said.