The United Arab Emirates has asked the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to investigate its claim that Qatari fighter jets intercepted two civilian aircrafts on their way to Bahrain.
The alleged interceptions were “a deliberate hostile act against civilian aircraft carriers,” said Ismaeil Mohammed Al Blooshi, assistant director general of the UAE’s civil aviation authority.
As the planes were descending, Al Blooshi said they were told by Bahrain air traffic control an unknown aircraft was flying near them. They were then told to reverse course and to hold steady to avoid a collision, he said.
One of the pilots of the Emirati carriers saw the Qatari fighter jet, Al Blooshi said. It had turned off its transponder, suggesting it wanted to remain unidentified, he claimed. The UAE would provide proof to the ICAO, the United Nations body responsible for civil aviation, Al Blooshi said.
Qatar’s Foreign Ministry has denied that its jets had intercepted the planes.
One plane belonged to Emirates airlines and had taken off from Dubai, according to Bahrain authorities. It is unclear which airline the second aircraft belonged to.
The UAE’s allegations follow last week’s complaint by Qatar to the UN Security Council that a UAE fighter jet had entered its airspace on December 21 2017
The tit-for-tat accusations over airspace violations represent an elevation of hostilities between Qatar and its neighbors that began last June when Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt, cut diplomatic, trade and travel ties with Doha, accusing it of supporting terrorism. Qatar strongly denies the charge.
The animosities between Qatar and the four Arab nations could affect international travel. The UAE’s Dubai airport is the third busiest in the world, according to the Airports Council International.