March 27, 2018 / 12:16 PM / a year ago

UAE says civilian flight paths will not change after war planes incident

United Arab Emirates' Sultan Bin Saeed Al Mansouri, Minister of Economy attends the opening meeting of the Arab Summit in Sharm el-Sheikh, in the South Sinai governorate, south of Cairo, March 28, 2015. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh/Files

DUBAI/ABU DHABI (Reuters) - The United Arab Emirates (UAE) will not change its civilian flight paths, the head of its aviation authority said on Tuesday, a day after the UAE accused Qatari war planes of flying dangerously close to two of its civilian aircraft.

The skies over the Gulf, where the alleged incidents took place, are heavily used everyday by airlines.

Asked if any changes would be made to civilian routes, the chairman of the UAE General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA), Sultan bin Saeed al-Mansouri, told Reuters: “We have no plans at the present time.”

The UAE called the incident - which Qatar denied - a “provocative action”, and said it had already reported two similar events to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the United Nations’ aviation agency.

Speaking on the sidelines of a conference in Dubai, Mansouri, who is also the minister of economy, said the UAE would now complain to the ICAO again.

The latest incidents involved a large aircraft owned by a UAE organisation and a helicopter, GCAA Assistant Director General Ismaeil Mohammed al-Blooshi told a news briefing in Abu Dhabi. He declined to identify the owners of the aircraft.

Bahrain’s civil aviation authority said on Monday a private Emirati Airbus A320 en route from the emirate of Fujairah to Rome was forced to a higher altitude after Qatari war planes flew dangerously close.

Blooshi said on Tuesday the war planes came as close as 800 metres horizontally and 213 metres vertically to the UAE aircraft.

It was not clear if the two incidents occurred at the same time or not.

Reporting By Alexander Cornwell and Aziz El Yaakoubi; Writing by Noah Browning; Editing by Gareth Jones

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