The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Council has agreed, in principle, during the meetings of the ICAO Council 223rd Session that began on June 18th, 2021 with the establishment of a Doha Flight Information Region (FIR) and Doha Search and Rescue Region (SRR) drawing on Qatar’s proposal, which would include Qatar’s sovereign airspace and, to optimize safety and efficiency of the regional airspace, other contiguous airspaces over the high seas.
The proposal of Qatar also included its intention to withdraw from the current arrangement whereby it has delegated to Bahrain the provision of air navigation services over its sovereign territory in accordance with paragraphs 2.1.1 of Annex 11 to the Chicago Convention.
The Council acknowledged during its meeting the right of Qatar to request the establishment of a Doha FIR/SRR over its sovereign territory and contiguous airspace consistent with Article 1 of the Chicago Convention and in accordance with Assembly Resolution A40-4, Appendix G.
The proposal of Qatar aims to support the development of safe and sustainable air transport operations in the region and reinforces Qatar’s commitments to the global aviation sector.
The ICAO Council emphasized that amendments of regional air navigation plans depend upon good relations, collaboration and mutual respect between States and that these elements are fundamental to ensuring seamless services with a high level of safety and quality.
During the ICAO Air Navigation Commission’s review of the technical aspects of the proposal, it was acknowledged that the State of Qatar possesses the capabilities and qualifications necessary to manage air traffic safely and effectively and to provide leading services in the field of search and rescue.
The ICAO Council acknowledged that over several decades, the Kingdom of Bahrain had provided safe and efficient air navigation services in the Middle East region.
Both Qatar and Bahrain were invited by the ICAO Council, as well as surrounding States with an interest in this matter, to discuss cooperatively under the auspices of the President of the Council, to agree on appropriate technical arrangements for the implementation of the Doha FIR/SRR, and to report the outcome of these discussions to the Council at its 224th Session for approval of the amendment of the Air Navigation Plan – Middle East Region.
Key highlights from the ICAO Council 223rd Session meetings on Qatar🇶🇦’s Proposal to Establish Doha (FIR) and Doha (SRR). pic.twitter.com/zS8mGdXXdY— وزارة المواصلات والاتصالات (@MOTC_QA) July 13, 2021
Prior to that, there was a virtual communication on June 9, 2021, between Minister of Transport and Communications HE Jassim Saif Ahmed Al-Sulaiti and his Bahraini counterpart in the presence of the ICAO Council president to discuss the technical aspects of the proposal of the State of Qatar. This was followed by a meeting between the technical committees of both countries on June 14, 2021.
HE Minister Al-Sulaiti appreciated the stance of the Council Member States for continuing the sessions amid such extraordinary circumstances of the pandemic, and for considering and approving the proposal by the State of Qatar to establish a Doha FIR/SRR. He expressed the State of Qatar's thanks and gratitude to the ICAO for its ongoing efforts to serve global civil aviation. He also thanked the ICAO ANC, which consists of 19 member countries, and Air Navigation Bureau of the Organization's Secretariat for the tremendous amount of work that has been invested in addressing the proposal.
Addressing the 223rd Council Session, HE the Minister said in a speech: “The proposal by the State of Qatar to establish a Doha FIR/SRR is of great importance for the future of civil aviation, not only in the Middle East region but the entire world and is fully consistent with the objectives of the Chicago Convention.”
In addition, he said: “The proposal represents one of the sovereign rights of the State of Qatar and demonstrates the huge investments made by Qatar to develop its air navigation system for the benefit of the region as a whole, by providing safe, efficient, and seamless air navigation services. This is thanks to the country’s possessing of all the factors and capabilities necessary for managing air traffic, and the country’s willingness to provide distinctive and efficient services in the field of search and rescue.”
He added that “the Chicago Convention clearly stated its objectives, and set out as its prime objective the development of international civil aviation in a safe and orderly manner and such that air transport services would be established on the basis of equality of opportunity, and operated soundly and economically”.
He noted that the State of Qatar since joining the ICAO has been committed to applying the principles of the Chicago Convention 1944 with high professionalism in terms of the peaceful use of airspace, freedom of navigation and protection of the environment.
HE the Minister said that the State of Qatar has over the past years reinforced its strong belief in the rules and principles that concerned the regulation of relations between states in the civil aviation community and the State of Qatar is proud of being an active and key participant in this UN organization. He said that Qatar spares no effort in supporting global civil aviation for creating an aviation industry that is characterized by safety, security, sustainability and efficiency.
He added that based on the Council’s decision, coordination has already begun to hold a technical meeting with the Kingdom of Bahrain to complete what has been reached by the ICAO Council and to prepare an implementation plan for the decisions made by the Council. He concluded that Qatar is looking forward to mutual cooperation to implement the decisions in a timely manner.
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