ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Ravi Karunanayake has suggested the national carrier SriLankan Airlines increase flights from Colombo to Middle East-Persian Gulf countries after the isolation of Qatar by its neighbours.
There are 150,000 Sri Lankan migrant workers in Qatar, the second largest number of expatriate workers after Saudi Arabia, where there are 193,000. The UAE has 125,000 Sri Lankans, and Egypt and Bahrain 10,000 each, Karunanayake told the Cabinet of Ministers this week.
Bilateral Air Services Agreements with Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the UAE and Bahrain need to be fully implemented allowing for the SriLankan Airlines to augment its flight connections to these countries, he has said.
This is aimed at mitigating the effects of the break off of air connectivity between Qatar and Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, Egypt and Yemen.
Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt, Bahrain and Yemen have cut diplomatic ties with Qatar accusing it of supporting Islamist extremists, especially the Muslim Brotherhood, a Sunni Islamic political group which was outlawed by both Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
These countries have announced they would break off all land, air and sea traffic with Qatar and close down their diplomatic missions.
Etihad, Emirates and Fly-Dubai suspended flights to and from Doha from Tuesdsy, 6th June 2017, Karunanayake said in a note to the Cabinet.
Qatar Airways, one of the major long-haul carriers in the Gulf region, will not be permitted in to the airspace of these countries. Doha is the second largest airport in the Gulf region providing transit connections to the East and West.
(COLOMBO, June 07, 2017)