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In 2013, Kuwait Airways refused to sell an Israeli citizen a ticket from JFK to London’s Heathrow, then, earlier this year, the airline was back in the news for refusing to let another passenger board a flight she was ticketed for. In October, the US Transportation Department threatened legal action against the airline for its refusal to sell tickets to Israelis – a policy of the airline because Kuwaiti law prohibits its citizens from entering “into an agreement, personally or indirectly, with entities or persons residing in Israel, or with Israeli citizenship.”
Yesterday, the airline informed the Department of Transportation that it would be eliminating service between JFK and London Heathrow. However, it would be keeping its service between JFK and Kuwait City. The reasoning for ending London service but not direct service to Kuwait City? In a November 24 petition to the Federal Court of Appeals, the airline claimed it wasn’t discriminatory because it will sell tickets to all passengers, no matter their race, national origin or religion, as long as they hold a passport valid in Kuwait – and an Israeli passport is not valid in Kuwait. Because of that Kuwaiti law, the dispute with the US came down to flights that didn’t land in Kuwait – such as the London route.
Instead of the US Transportation Department blocking the airline’s flights to or from the country, Kuwait Airways decided to cancel the JFK-LHR route entirely, effective immediately. When trying to book a flight on the route, a message appears reading, “Sorry, we were unable to process your request due to either no operating flight or no seats available. Please select a different search option.”
Last week, TPG flew Kuwait Airways first class on this exact route from New York-JFK to London and was unimpressed. The interior of the aircraft was severely outdated, as you can see in the image above. Nonetheless, it’s interesting that the airline chose to cancel the route rather than allow Israeli passengers on board. The Israeli citizen who wasn’t allowed to buy a ticket from JFK-LHR, Eldad Gatt, says he will do everything in his power to ensure the airline doesn’t resume flights between the two cities until it accepts Israelis as passengers.
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