Qatar Airways Group has launched four international investment arbitrations against the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Egypt.
Since 2017, the four states have imposed an “illegal air, sea and land blockade against Qatar,” the carrier said.
The arbitrations seek redress for the blockading states’ actions to remove Qatar Airways from their markets and to forbid the airline from flying over their airspace.
Qatar Airways is seeking a total of at least US$5 billion from the blockading states as compensation for their “unlawful actions”.
The carrier argues it has made substantial investments in the four countries over the past 30 years in order to serve hundreds of thousands of passengers.
The blockage of Qatar – which also includes Yemen – began in 2017, with the Middle Eastern countries accusing Doha of supporting militant groups including so-called Islamic State and al-Qaeda.
Qatar denies the allegations.
Commenting on the launch of the investment arbitrations, Akbar Al Baker, chief executive of Qatar Airways, said: “The decision by the blockading states to prevent Qatar Airways from operating in their countries and flying over their airspace is a clear breach of civil aviation conventions and several binding agreements they are signatories to.
“After more than three years of efforts to resolve the crisis amicably through dialogue yielded no results, we have taken the decision to issue notices of arbitration and pursue all legal remedies to protect our rights and secure full compensation for the violations.
“The blockading states must be held accountable for their illegal actions in the aviation sector, which includes a failure to comply with their obligations under bilateral agreements, multilateral agreements and international law.”
Qatar Airways is seeking compensation under three separate treaties, namely: the OIC Investment Agreement; the Arab Investment Agreement; and the bilateral investment treaty between Qatar and Egypt.
The notices of arbitration seek to prove that, by imposing the measures against Qatar Airways, the blockading states have violated their obligations under the agreements.