Political and Organizational Crises: Qatar Airways in the Middle

It was announced today that six Arab countries were cutting diplomatic ties with Qatar:  Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, The United Arab Emirates (UAE), Egypt, and Yemen.  The primary reason given publicly is that Qatar is not doing enough to fight terrorism and is even supporting terrorist activities.  Here is a short version from a BBC news story:


“They say Qatar backs militant groups including so-called Islamic State (IS) and al-Qaeda, which Qatar denies.

The Saudi state news agency SPA said Riyadh had closed its borders, severing land, sea and air contact with the tiny peninsula of oil-rich Qatar.

Qatar called the decision “unjustified” and with ‘no basis in fact’.”


Airlines in the region will feel the effect of the political decision.  For instance, Etihad announced it would end flights to Doha (the capital of Qatar) on June 6th.  Moreover, the six countries are closing their air space to Qatar Airways.  The airline will lose routes and seeing increased operating costs and disruption as it finds ways to reroute many of its existing routes.  The closed air space creates problems for Qatar promoting itself as the connection between Europe and Asia.  The opening image shows a statement by Etihad but Qatar Airways had yet to make public statements the morning of June5th. 


The diplomatic pressure is designed to create policy changes in Qatar.  Time will tell whether or not that will be effective.  However, airlines flying to Doha must cope with the immediate operational crises this political action will create. 


Questions to Consider:

1.  What communicative actions will Qatar Airways need to take as it addresses this crisis?

2.  There were some warning signs but how can organizations prepare for crises caused by political disputes between countries?

3.  How might other affected airlines respond to the crisis?


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