Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, His Excellency Mr. Akbar Al Baker, yesterday marked a world first by becoming the first airline leader outside of the European Union to personally address the European Parliament’s Committee on Transport and Tourism (TRAN).
This honour provided H.E. Mr. Al Baker with the opportunity to update the European Parliament and the TRAN committee, including its current Chair, Madame Karima Delli MEP, about the ongoing blockade against the State of Qatar by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, the Kingdom of Bahrain and Egypt.
H.E. Mr. Al Baker addressed the audience and distinguished members of the committee, providing a first-hand account of the challenges that have been faced since the start of the coordinated blockade, while highlighting how, against a campaign of isolation, the State of Qatar and Qatar Airways have strengthened their resolve in the face of adversity.
For the first time, H.E. Mr Al Baker gave behind the scenes details on the shock blockade imposed on the State of Qatar. The year 2017 marked a turning point for the State of Qatar, as the country became subject to a ruthless campaign of isolation.
Explaining that he was at the IATA (International Air Transport Association) AGM in Cancun when the event’s unfolded, a 22 hour return journey ensued to see Qatar Airways GCEO return home to guide his airline in response to this unprecedented act of war.
With 18 air corridors immediately reduced to just two corridors elaborate measures were necessary to assure safe operations in to and out of Qatar. In the middle of the holy month of Ramadan, the normal flow of goods and basic supplies such as medicine, food and water, was dangerously interrupted.
Qatar Airways offices were closed by force and without prior notice by local authorities in the blockade states. These actions, perpetrated without warning and justification, imposed significant human hardship on the families separated as a result.
During the impassioned speech Mr. Al Baker condemned ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization) for what he called a “timid and disappointing” response, at the same time he called on the world to condemn such “reckless political manoeuvres that violate fundamental norms of international aviation”. As the country approaches the end of one year under the imposed blockade, Qatar Airways has become a strategic pillar to ensure food security in our country.
Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, His Excellency Mr. Akbar Al Baker, said: “I am honoured to have had the opportunity to address the European Parliament today, an occasion that demonstrates Qatar Airways’ growing relationship with the European Union. This is a friendship that will only continue to grow, alongside mutual cooperation, to restore a fair and open aviation regime, supported by good governance and a collaborative rule of law around the world.
“I would also like to personally thank the members of the European Union for their support amidst the extraordinary illegal blockade against my home country, with notable thanks to MEP Mr. Ismail Ertug, who made today’s event in Brussels possible.”
The TRAN Committee is the leading legislative Committee of the European Parliament responsible for air transport, rail, road and inland waterways, alongside the development of trans-European networks in the areas of transport infrastructure.