Politics is the oddest of sports and the decades-long conflict in the Middle East is manifested in strange ways — like some nations not recognizing Israel while simultaneously vowing to eliminate it. Kuwait is one of those nations and if you have an Israeli passport you cannot travel on state-owned Kuwait Airways. Why? The airline does not recognize Israel as a legitimate nation and therefore any Israeli travel documents are as good as counterfeits–they are invalid to the Kuwaiti government.
That was problematic for passengers on Kuwait’s Fifth Freedom Route between London and New York, two nations that have no such travel restrictions against Israeli passport holders. As I wrote about in October, the U.S. Department of Transportation demanded that Kuwait Airways cease its discriminatory practices and transport Israeli citizens on the New York – London flight or cease service on that route.
After two months of deliberation, Kuwait Airways chose the latter, immediately ceasing service between New York and London and thus eliminating a cheap means of flying between two of the greatest cities in the world.
Kuwait Airways was never a luxury carrier, but its flights between New York and London in business class and first class were often dirt cheap compared to competitors and it is no surprise that people of all nationalities would want to take advantage of these great fares.
Kuwait Airways Still Flies to the USA and Still Discriminates against Israeli Citizens
Kuwait Airways will still fly non-stop flights from New York JFK to Kuwait City and will be able to deny passage to any Israeli citizens. Why is this different?
Here were are not talking about a commercial entity flying between two foreign nations but a carrier transporting passengers to the nation of Kuwait, a country whose immigration guidelines do not even allow transit for Israeli citizens.
As silly as that may seem (who would want to turn down business from anyone?), that is a totally different scenario — nations are sovereign over their borders and even though the line between state-run Kuwait Airways and the nation itself is thin, it makes all the difference.
Here’s to hoping Kuwait Airways may come to it senses and realize that Middle East peace will not be won through silly flight restrictions.