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UAE accuses Qatari fighters of flying dangerously close to civilian aircraft

UAE accuses Qatari fighters of flying dangerously close to civilian aircraft

Two similar incidents have been reported in recent months

The UAE has again accused Qatari fighter jets of flying dangerously close to one of its civilian aircraft.

In a statement to state news agency WAM, the emirates’ General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) said Qatar’s fighters followed a civilian aircraft with 86 passengers on board on a scheduled trip over Bahraini air space.

The fighter jets came within “a few seconds” of hitting the civilian plane at around 12:00pm, forcing the pilot to make a “quick manoeuvre to get away and avoid collision”, the GCCA said.

“The Qatari fighters pursued the UAE civil aircraft and approaching it, reducing the horizontal distance to less than two miles and the vertical to 700 feet, leaving a few seconds before the collision of the aircraft,” according to the statement.

Bahrain’s Civil Aviation Affairs department confirmed the interception in a separate statement saying the Airbus A320 was flying over international waters at 25,000ft.

It said the plane was an Etihad flight from the Saudi city of Dammam to Abu Dhabi.

“This incident constitutes a clear violation of international regulations, threatens the safety and integrity of international air traffic, poses serious risks to air traffic and threatens the lives of passengers and property,” according to the statement carried by Bahrain News Agency.

The emirates’ aviation regulator confirmed it would make another compliant to the United Nations’ aviation agency against Qatar for threatening passenger safety following the incident.

“The kingdom reserves the right to take all actions with the International Civil Aviation Organisation and related organisations to put an end to these illegal practices which are carried out by the Qatari authorities,” Bahrain’s Civil Aviation Affairs department said in a similar statement.

The UAE previously claimed commercial flights were intercepted in previous incidents in March and January.

Read: UAE complains to UN over alleged Qatar aircraft interceptions

The UAE, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Egypt closed their respective airspace to Qatari aircraft in June last year as part of a wider boycott over Qatar’s alleged support for terrorist groups.

Following this, ICAO helped Qatar Airways access contingency routes over international waters because the country had limited airspace of its own as part of Bahrain’s Flight Information region.

Behind the scenes, the UN aviation agency is said to be facilitating talks between Qatar and its neighbours to defuse tensions over air space violations.

Read: UN aviation agency seeks to defuse Gulf airspace standoff

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