Qatari royal planes land in Switzerland over health emergency

GENEVA (AFP) - Unidentified individuals travelling in planes belonging to Qatar's royal family made an emergency trip to Switzerland over the weekend for medical reasons, a Swiss official told AFP Monday (Dec 28).

A spokesman for Switzerland's Federal Office of Civil Aviation confirmed local media reports that multiple aircraft made unscheduled landings at the Zurich-Kloten airport overnight from Dec 25 to 26 and that the planes were part of the Qatari royal fleet.

He gave no details as to who was on board or who any of the potential patients may have been.

"The emergency landing clearance was given by the Swiss air force," he told AFP, explaining that the civil aviation office was closed during the hours in question.

Night landings and takeoffs are typically forbidden at Zurich-Kloten to avoid disturbing local residents.

Swiss foreign ministry spokesman Georg Farago told AFP in an email that the federation was informed about the "stay of members of Qatar's royal family in Switzerland," without giving further details.

According to Zurich's Tages Anzeiger newspaper, the first Qatari plane, an Airbus, landed in Zurich from Marrakesh shortly after midnight on December 26.

Members of the Qatari royal family had reportedly been on holiday at a Moroccan resort in the Atlas mountains.

A second flight landed at Zurich-Kloten at 5.00 am (0400 GMT) on Dec 26, with a third plane coming 15 minutes later, both having originated in Doha, the paper reported.

According to Tages Anzeiger, the medical emergency in question was so significant that six more planes linked to the Qatari royal family and government landed in Zurich through the weekend.

No immediate details were available about any specific health emergencies among Qatari royals.

Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, 35, ascended the throne in 2013 after his father Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani abdicated in his favour.