What should shippers do? June 6th, 2017, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt, Yemen and Libya announced that they were severing ties with Qatar due to suspicions of Qatar financing terrorism. The actions taken by these countries had immediate effect on the trade and logistics in the region and especially to and from Qatar.
The European Shippers’ Council is continuously monitoring the developments in Qatar. Here are the recent developments and advice for shippers:
Air transport: regional disruptions
One of the first measures by the countries isolating Qatar was closing their airspace for Qatari carriers and scrapping flights between these countries and Doha, Qatar. This meant a severe blow to the flight operations of Qatar Airways:
- Although operations remain normal to and from Europe, Qatar Airways has to fly via Iran and Turkey to Europe instead of via Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Israel. This adds extra flight time of 1 hour and extra fuel costs
- Flying from Doha to Africa has become even more difficult and flights of Qatar Airways now fly via Oman and Somalia. This adds up to 2 hours more flight time into Ethiopia and Sudan
- Shippers that use Qatar Airways or Doha Airport for regional transshipments, should use Qatar Airways as destination Doha only. Transferring air cargo to Dubai (UAE), Abu Dhabi (UAE) or Damman via Doha (Saudi Arabia) is blocked.
- Shippers are advised to use Dubai or Abu Dhabi for regional transshipments.
- Shippers that use Qatar Airways for intercontinental transshipments via Doha should not be effected by the blockade.
Sea transport: transshipments via Oman
The seaport of Hammad, Qatar is feedered by smaller vessels with containers due to low water issues. This means ocean carriers normally dock at Jebel Ali (UAE) and containers are then transshipped on smaller vessel to and from Qatar. However, due to isolation no goods are being transshipped to and from Qatar via Jebel Ali. Containers are not released by the terminals for transshipments.
- Ocean carriers have therefore rerouted their transshipments via the ports of Sohar and Jalalah (both Oman).
- Iran is also possible for transshipments but has a number of restrictions due to sanctions.
- Shippers are advised to stay in contact with their logistic service provider or carrier for a feasible alternative to and from Qatar.
Furthermore, road transport from Qatar to Saudi Arabia is blocked.