Qatar Airways evaluates routes opened by boycotting countries

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[August 09, 2017]  DOHA (Reuters) - Qatar Airways is evaluating whether it will use air routes which media reports said were opened this week by countries embroiled in a political dispute with Qatar, the airline's chief executive said on Wednesday.

Qatar Airways aircraft at Hamad International Airport in Doha, Qatar June 12, 2017. REUTERS/Naseem Zeitoon/File Photo

Qatari-owned aircraft are blocked from using the airspace of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates as part of economic sanctions enforced by the four countries in June.

Qatar Airways is studying "the flexibility and benefit" of one "very short route" while another route off the Egyptian coast was "useless" to the airline, Chief Executive Akbar al-Baker said at a Doha press conference.

Al-Baker did not say where the short route was located or when the airline would decide if it would use the routes.

The United Nation's aviation agency said on Aug. 8 Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates had agreed to open some of its airspace to Qatari aircraft, according to media reports.

Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt and the UAE severed ties with Qatar on June 5, accusing it of supporting Islamist militants.

Qatar has denied the allegations.

The airspace closures have forced Qatar Airways to fly longer, more expensive routes, prompting Doha to call for the UN's International Civil Aviation Organization to intervene.

(Reporting by Tom Finn, writing by Alexander Cornwell. Editing by Jane Merriman)

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