June 07, 2017 (LBO) – Sri Lanka wants to improve its air connectivity with Gulf countries in order to mitigate the effects of the break off of air connectivity between Qatar and Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, Egypt and Yemen.
As a result of growing crisis in the Gulf region, the state-owned flag carrier of Qatar, Qatar Airways, will not be permitted in to airspace of these countries.
Qatar Airways however is one of the major long-haul carriers in the Gulf region and Doha is the second largest airport in the Gulf region providing transit connections to the east and the west.
Foreign Minister Ravi Karunanayake has suggested that bilateral air services agreements with Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the UAE and Bahrain need to be fully implemented allowing SriLankan Airlines to augment its flight connections to these countries.
At present, a large number of Sri Lankan expatriates namely Saudi Arabia (193,000), UAE (125,000) Qatar (150,000) Egypt (10,000) and Bahrain (10,000) live in these countries.
The Sri Lanka Missions in the Gulf region are kept on alert to monitor the security situation closely for providing any consular assistance in case of emergency.