Turkey, Qatar build 'air bridge' with aid air traffic

Published 17.06.2017 00:00

Following a blockade of Qatar by a number of Arab countries led by Saudi Arabia, Turkey has quickly stepped up to supply food aid to the isolated country. So far, the intense flow of food carried by Turkish Airlines and Qatar Airways cargo planes has supplied 2,800 tons of aid to Qatar and has been reported as a bridge over the air.

Turkish Airlines and Qatar Airways have made 15 and 25 flights respectively to date, reportedly using Airbus 330 and Boeing 777 cargo planes to transport the aid supplies to Qatar's capital Doha.

The flights started carrying their nourishing cargo between Turkey and Qatar on June 6, with no end date in sight.

According to Habertürk, the unprecedented Turkish Airlines and Qatar Airways flight traffic between the two countries consists of mainly food items, including chicken, eggs, milk and yogurt.

The increase has led to the airlines totaling five daily flights between the two countries on the busiest days. A total of 40 Airbus 330 and Boeing 777 flights, both gigantic wide-frame cargo planes, took off from Turkey headed for Doha in the eight days following June 6.

Among the Turkish Airlines flights, 15 Airbus 330 type aircraft with a maximum takeoff capacity of 69 tons departed from İzmir Adnan Menderes Airport destined for Doha.

In Istanbul, the majority of Qatar Airways Airbus 330 and Boeing 777 flights took off from Istanbul Sabiha Gökçen Airport.

In fact, the Qatari company has almost established its own terminal at Istanbul Sabiha Gökçen Airport, with seven Boeing 777 flights as well as 18 Airbus 330 taking off transporting 2,400 tons of aid supplies to Doha with 40 flights, so far.

Meanwhile, Iran's Food Producers' Cooperative President Mehdi Kerimi said they had missed a significant opportunity in the Qatar crisis and, as a result, lost the market to Turkey.

"Unfortunately, we were not able to catch the opportunities in Qatar and were unable to enter the market in time," Kerimi said, according to Iran's semi-official news agency Tasnim.

Pointing out that Turkey filled the country's shelves within 48 hours of the embargo's implementation, Kerimi said they had lost the Qatari market to Turkey. He also noted Qatar imports $3 billion worth of food per year, while Iran only exported $18 million worth of food products to Qatar last year.

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