Flights suspended in Middle East amid diplomatic crisis

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Some of the Middle East’s biggest airlines are suspending flights to Qatar as a major diplomatic crisis roils the region.

Etihad, Emirates and FlyDubai on Monday announced they are halting all flights in and out of Doha, the Qatari capital, starting Tuesday morning. The news comes after Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Yemen and Egypt said they have broken off relations with Qatar, accusing it of supporting terrorism.

Saudi Arabia banned Qatar Airways from flying to the kingdom, or using its airspace, starting Tuesday. And all Saudi carriers were banned, with immediate effect, from flying to Doha.

The UAE government said it’s closing its airspace and seaports for Qataris and “banning all Qatari means of transportation.”

Qatar Airways, the country’s flag carrier, didn’t respond to requests seeking comment.

The Qatari government expressed its dismay at its neighbors’ moves to isolate it, calling the decision “unjustified and based on baseless allegations.”

There are around 40 flights a day to Doha from the UAE.

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The sudden halt on air travel to and from Qatar is the latest blow to carriers in the region.

Emirates, Qatar Airways and Etihad were among 10 airlines on which the Trump administration imposed tough new restrictions in March. The carriers are now required to prevent passengers flying from their Middle East hubs to the United States from carrying almost all types of electronic devices in the cabin.

Monday’s crackdown on flights is part of a broader set of restrictions on travel involving Qatar and its citizens.

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The UAE government said it’s giving Qatari diplomats 48 hours and Qatari residents and visitors 14 days to leave the UAE “for precautionary security reasons.” UAE citizens are also banned from traveling or transiting through Qatar.