Qatar denies two UAE passenger planes were intercepted by air force

Qatar denies two UAE passenger planes were intercepted by air force
The UAE has claimed two passenger planes were intercepted by Qatari fighter planes on Monday, leading to a strong denial from Doha.
3 min read
15 January, 2018
UAE claims one of its civilian planes intercepted en route to Bahrain [Getty illustrative photo]

Doha has strongly rejected claims by the UAE on Monday that Qatari fighter jets intercepted two civilian flights in the Gulf region.

Qatar's foreign ministry is due to issue a statement on the issue but a spokesperson rejected the claims on Twitter.

"The state of Qatar announces that the claims of Qatari fighter planes intercepting a UAE civil aircraft (are) completely false," foreign ministry spokeswoman Lulwa al-Khater said on Twitter.

Other aviation experts also cast doubt on Abu Dhabi's claims. One pointed out that one of the passenger planes which the UAE said was intercepted followed its usual route to Manama using Bahraini airspace.

FlightRadar24 tracking site told AP that the first passenger plane did not divert from its usual route.

"There appears to be no deviation from standard routing and approach patterns in today's flights," FlightRadar24 spokesman Ian Petchenik told AP.

The US Air Force Central Command in Qatar also told AP that there appeared to be no unusual activity over the emirate's skies on Monday.

Lt. Col. Damien Pickart, air force spokesperson, added that the US does not usually monitor Qatari air force flights.

The UAE's aviation authority claimed on Monday that a passenger plane travelling to Bahrain was intercepted by a Qatari fighter jets.

"The GCAA received a message from one of the UAE's national carriers on Monday morning that one of its aircraft on a flight to Manama on a normal route had been intercepted by Qatari fighters," the report said.

"The flight was a regular, scheduled service on a known flight-path that met all the required and internationally recognised approvals and permits."

Later, UAE state media claimed a second "civilian aircraft" travelling to Bahrain was intercepted.

Bahrain - a close ally of the UAE - also backed Abu Dhabi's accusations in a statement.

"The ministry of foreign affairs stresses the Kingdom of Bahrain's full support for the UAE and its backing for all of the measures it takes to maintain its security and stability, to stop these violations and to repel these breaches by the State of Qatar," the statement read.

It follows two complaints to the UN by Qatar that Emirati fighter jets entered its airspace in a matter of weeks.

Qatar is currently under blockade by neighbouring Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain - including by air - after accusations by the three Gulf states and Egypt that Doha supports extremist groups.

Qatar strongly denies these claims and has called for international mediation to end the crisis.