The United Arab Emirates General Civil Aviation Authority announced on Monday that two Qatari fighter jets intercepted two of its commercial airliners en route to Bahrain, state news agency WAM reported.
"The General Civil Aviation Authority received a message from a national carrier on Monday morning that an aircraft on a routine flight to Manama was intercepted by Qatari fighter jets in a flagrant and serious threat to the safety of civil aviation and a clear violation of international law," it said in a statement describing the interception of the first jet.
"This is a routine flight that has all the required paperwork," the authority said according to WAM.
It condemned the incident and said it would take "all necessary legal measures to ensure the safety and security of civil air traffic."
Director General of the General Civil Aviation Authority Saif al-Suwaidi said that the Qatari jets intercepted the first plane at 10:30 a.m., and the second at 11:15 a.m.
He added that the interception was visible to the naked eye by the cabin crew and passengers, which is a “clear threat to the lives of innocent civilians.”
He stressed that Qatar had never carried out such action before without prior warning, which is a blatant violation of international laws and civil aviation safety.
The Qatar jets suddenly veered towards the UAE planes without prior notice, Suwaidi explained.
He expressed the country’s rejection of such threats, vowing that it will take all necessary legal actions to ensure the safety of civil aviation.
The interception drew the condemnation of Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.
Manama stressed that this is a “clear violation of relevant international conventions and laws, particularly those of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the provisions of the Chicago Convention on International Civil Aviation and its amendments of 1944.”
The Bahrain Foreign Ministry affirmed in a statement "that this rejected hostile behavior by Qatar against civil aircraft has become frequent in recent times and jeopardizes the safety of civil aviation and poses a threat to the lives of civilians.
"The Ministry of Foreign Affairs stresses the Kingdom of Bahrain's full support for the UAE and its backing for all of the measures it takes to maintain its security and stability, to stop these violations and to repel these breaches by the State of Qatar," added the statement carried by the Bahrain News Agency (BNA).
Qatar’s Foreign Ministry for its part denied that its fighter jets had intercepted the civilian planes.