Kuwait to close international airport, suspend all commercial flights

Mar 11, 2020

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Kuwait International Airport (KWI) is set to become the largest airport to suspend commercial operations amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. As of March 13, 2020, Kuwait Airport will close for passenger operations indefinitely.

The Gulf Arab state said on Wednesday that it would suspend all commercial flights to and from its capital airport, largely sealing itself off from the rest of the world. According to state news agency KUNA, cargo flights will continue to operate.

As of Wednesday afternoon, flights to and from the airport appeared to operate as normal.

(Image courtesy of FlightRadar24)
(Image courtesy of FlightRadar24)

KWI is a modern airport with about 335 flights per day. In 2019, it transported just fewer than 15.5 million passengers, according to the Kuwait Times — a 4% increase versus the year prior. The airport is the hub for the nation’s flag carrier Kuwait Airways. British Airways flies to KWI from London Heathrow, a route that will be canceled indefinitely until the airport reopens for operations.

There have been 72 cases of coronavirus diagnosed in Kuwait as of Wednesday. After the airport closes for commercial operations as of March 13, there will be some exceptions, such as Kuwaiti nationals attempting to return home.

Reuters reports that government authorities had announced a public holiday from March 12-26, with work set to resume on March 29. Currently, those in Kuwait are banned from going to restaurants and cafes, including those inside malls.

While some airlines have taken to reducing operations, Kuwait is the first country to completely shut down its major international airport as a preventative measure.

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Featured photo by Ben Smithson/The Points Guy.

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