Qatar Airways has launched a $5-billion claim for compensation against the governments of the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Bahrain following the three-year blockade of Qatar.

The airline’s owner Qatar Airways Group has issued an international investment arbitration claim against each of the governments.

Saudi Arabia initiated an air, sea and land blockade of Qatar on June 5 2017 alleging financial support for terrorist activities, a charge the Qatar government denies.

In a statement, Qatar Airways said: “Since 2017, the four states have imposed an illegal air, sea and land blockade against Qatar.

“The arbitrations seek redress for the blockading states’ actions to remove Qatar Airways from their markets and to forbid the airline from flying over their airspace.

“Qatar Airways is seeking at least US$5 billion as compensation for their unlawful actions.”

The airline argues that “on 5 June 2017, without prior warning, the UAE, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Egypt took collective measures targeting Qatar Airways and its operations.

“These measures specifically targeted Qatar Airways, with the objective of shuttering Qatar Airways’ local operations, destroying the value of the airline’s investments and causing widespread damage to Qatar Airways’ global network of operations.

“These measures included, but were not limited to, closing their airspace and airports to Qatar Airways’ aircraft and revoking Qatar Airways’ licenses and permits to operate in the blockading states.

“These measures persist to date and continue to disrupt Qatar Airways’ global operations.”

Qatar Airways said it is seeking “full compensation” in arbitrations brought under three treaties: the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Investment Agreement, the Arab Investment Agreement, and the bilateral investment treaty between Qatar and Egypt.

It argues the blockading states “violated their obligations under the agreements, including by expropriating and failing to adequately protect and secure Qatar Airways’ investments, discriminating against Qatar Airways, and failing to provide fair and equitable treatment to the airline”.

Investment arbitration is used to resolve disputes between foreign investors and host states.

Qatar Airways chief executive Akbar Al Baker said: “The decision by the blockading states to prevent Qatar Airways from operating in their countries and flying over their airspace is a clear breach of civil aviation conventions and several binding agreements they are signatories to.

“After more than three years of efforts to resolve the crisis yielded no results, we have taken the decision to issue Notices of Arbitration and pursue all legal remedies to protect our rights and secure full compensation.

“The blockading states must be held accountable for their illegal actions in the aviation sector.”

Al Baker insisted: “Qatar Airways is one of the world’s leading airlines. Despite the efforts of the blockading states, we have maintained our global position.”