COVID-19: Mass cancellations in Kuwait after flight ban

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Around 10,000 air tickets will be cancelled after Kuwait decided to suspend flights from dozens of countries over fears of the new coronavirus, Kuwaiti newspaper Al Qabas has reported, citing a source.

On Saturday, Kuwait’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation announced banning entry of travellers from 31 “high-risk” countries on instructions from Kuwaiti health authorities. The suspension went into effect Saturday until further notice.

Those countries include India, Pakistan, Egypt, and the Philippines that have large communities of expatriates in Kuwait.

“Thousands of expatriate residents in Kuwait will cancel their reservations for fear they will not be able to re-enter Kuwait,” the source said. The majority of the cancellations will come from the Egyptian expatriates, according to the source.

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“The health authorities’ decision has caused an economic catastrophe and huge losses for some airlines and travel offices,” said the source, calling the flight suspension a “hasty decision” .

“How can health authorities allow citizens and residents to travel to the banned countries and on the other hand bar their citizens from entering Kuwait?” the source said.

The decision to suspend the flights from the 31 countries was announced hours after the Kuwait International Airport reopened for commercial flights after a halt of over four months, at 30 per cent of its normal capacity.

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Other countries covered by the Kuwaiti ban include Iran, China, Bangladesh, Brazil, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Spain, Italy, Mexico, Singapore, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Serbia, Montenegro, Peru, Moldova, Singapore, Hong Kong, Panama, Chile and the Dominican Republic.

Foreigners account for nearly 3.4 million of Kuwait’s 4.8 million population.

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