Qatar flight delayed in payment dispute over ground handling charges

A Qatar flight scheduled to fly to Doha on Sunday night was refused permission to depart Ibrahim Nasir International Airport (INIA) following the airline’s ongoing refusal to pay increased ground handling charges.

The move came after the airline’s CEO Akbar Al Baker last week was recently reported as stating that Qatar would re-consider flying to the Maldives if airport operator GMR insisted on a 51 percent increase in ground handling charges.

“If we or any other major player withdraws services because of these unwarranted and draconian measures, it will be the people of the Maldives who will lose out, affecting their livelihoods as they rely heavily on the tourism industry,” Al Baker said.

Minivan News reported yesterday that GMR had requested that Qatar pay cash for the day’s flights.

INIA CEO Andrew Harrison told Minivan News today that the flight had been refused permission to depart due to the airline’s lack of payment of the revised charges.

The flight was delayed an hour and 20 minutes, he said, before GMR allowed it to depart “on compassionate grounds. There were women and children on board and passengers with international connections to make, who were being inconvenienced through no fault of their own,” he said.

Minivan News understands that GMR is currently in talks with several airlines regarding back payment of the increased charges. The company has said it will release a formal statement later in the week.

“MACL (Maldives Airport Company Limited) announced the revised charges in February 2010, after 14 years without increases,” Harrison said. “The charges are still below those for the same aircraft sizes at other airports in the region.”

MACL’s revised charges came into effect on 1 November 2010, Harrison explained. “They had an obligation to give six months notice, and they gave nine. We took over on 25 November. We included [the revised charges] as part of our business and revenue.”

Qatar’s Country Manager for the Maldives Sayed Mohammad Tariq said the matter was being dealt with at head office level by the airline’s senior management.

“Qatar’s CEO made his position very clear. We have nothing to say at station level,” he told Minivan News.

Morning and evening flights on Monday were cancelled. However Tariq said no decision had been made to cancel future flights which remained in the airline’s booking system.

The airline was today taking care of passengers affected by the payment dispute, he said. “We are taking care of all passengers and putting them on other flights.”


11 thoughts on “Qatar flight delayed in payment dispute over ground handling charges”

  1. Very sad indeed when foreign airlines have to issue press releases calling on the government of Maldives to think about the future of Maldives' tourism industry. This is the state we are at now. The government has turned out to be a big failure and a threat to the future of our country.

  2. Ofcourse if payments are not done.This cannot be blamed.Its a private company, they are charging for the service they provide to their customers.

  3. Mr. President your corrupt government and mismanagement of our economy is reaching new heights. You brought GMR to Maldives and gifted them the airport. You have put an incompetent adult movie actor as the transport minister to oversee your corrupt dealings. GMR is holding tourists, airlines and our economy to hostage. Are you still 200% behind this extortion? When you came to office and suggested, that Maldives is going under and we need to buy land elsewhere in the world, I thought global warming and sea level rise will be the demise of our nation. As a loyal supporter, I never thought that the corruption and your mismanagement of our economy will bankrupt and sink the nation in debt. A note to the last person to leave Maldives, please remember to turn out the lights.

  4. How very predictable. We can everyone jumping on the political bandwagon and blaming GMR, Saleem, Nasheed and whoever else they can on this.

    Let's look at the facts. Qatar Airways owes the Maldivian government, i.e. us, a lot of money. This is not a puny Buruma Airways. We are talking about one of the largest and most profitable airlines in the world. It's CEO Akbar Al Baker, is renowned for his fire brand style of management and controversial statements. He "threatened" stopping flights to the Maldives without paying what's due.

    As has been pointed out, the handling charges at INIA are one of the lowest in this region even after the increase. The former operator of the airport was incompetent enough to keep the same level of charges for 14 years! Give me an example of any business that would do or had done that!

    I don't know how much of a difference it makes to Qatar or other airlines in terms of profit margins due to this increase. It will make a difference, but I suspect the airlines are more interested in blackmailing the Maldivians into squeezing as much as they can out of this.

    The decent thing for an airline of the size of Qatar Airways would have been to negotiate first and pay whatever was due first, before embarking on threats.

  5. I don't think Qatar concern is handling charges, but the service GMR offer to a world's five star airline. Qatar is an airline started with just 4 aircraft and now over 150 aircraft, yet to come 200 aircrafts more. He "akbar" who has changed a desert into mega new Doha airport, yet open in this year. This growth will not only benefit QATAR , but a small nation like Maldives which is branded as luxury destination. Qatar is also promoting with their five star this nation. But unfortunately some people taken the situation more politically. Especially aviation and fisheries ministers. And I don't understand in what mind Mr. Andrew can compare regional airports with Maldives airport??? Who would prefer to pay $2000 for a two star resort..... Value for money?? Think logically and talk logically

  6. Qatar well done. Now Anni will lrealise what a mess he had done. I hope all major airlines like Emirates and Singapore Airlines all cancel flights to Maldives. Anni is a devil who needs to be stoned to death.

  7. You never believed when I wrote the article about GMR taking over one of the main assets of the country. You did not believe Ibrahim Shafeeg's street protest and you called him a clown. You dis not want to see what was in front of your eyes. Have you learn the lesson? Maybe not yet. GMR needs to go home !!! Or honour the Maldivian people and their partners. No more dictatorship
    Of any kind in Maldives. Open your eyes, get out of the sleeping state you are on. Maldives will not sink but will be taken over if you don't move.

  8. Here again, Minivan is not Minivan. It is not only qatar airways who are compiling about the fuel hick but rather all airlines. GMR does not have the rights to increase the prices in such a way that it affect our economy. Government does not have the right to give airport assets to GMR at free and those assets should have been valued at billion dollars ? There is a reasonable ground to believe that Nasheed and his gangs have pocketed huge amount of money from this deals and that is why GMR is playing games here an driving all local business away from the airport . The ultimate objective of GMR is to force the airlines to stock flying direct to Maldives but rather route the tourist traffic through India and make them fly only with Indian airlines.

  9. I told u long time ago . When former president visited India and attended a function at GMR airport itself, GMR bought Nasheed and his men . The Airport was awarded to GMR overnight and the International Bid was only a drama .

    Maldives will suffer for over 25 yrs as along as GMR is around and they will make money 100000 times and leave the country dead.
    nasheed,Shafeeg,Saleem,and all his men were paid money for the airport .Some of the officers were sent to India, were put into five star hotels and treated for high class prosititutes/wine and what not?? Even the oppsoition was paid money inclduign the former president gayoom so that none make Noise. Even Andres harrison is not a muslim but GMR trained him to be a muslim and put him at Maldives to act as a muslim . Sripathy and GMR is anti muslim and they will destroy Maldives. GMR/Sripathy did not allow a single muslim person to get jobs in Indian airports but they took over Male airport to make money !!
    Dear Brothers and sisters of Maldives ..
    Wake up and pack up GMR and send them away from Maldives otehrewise u guys will suffer for ever...


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