Kuwait Airways drops route over refusal to fly Israelis

Kuwait Airways drops route over refusal to fly Israelis
Kuwait's state-owned airline has pulled its connection between New York and London after US authorities threatened legal action over alleged discrimination against Israelis.
2 min read
18 December, 2015
Kuwait Airways says it will no longer fly the New York to London route [Getty]

Kuwait Airways is scrapping flights between New York's JFK airport and London's Heathrow after authorities in the US threatened legal action over its refusal to sell tickets to Israelis.

The US Department of Transportation [DoT] in September sent a letter to the airline warning it to end what it said amounted to "discrimination".

The DoT said on Wednesday that state-owned Kuwait Airways had a day earlier informed authorities that it would get rid of the route.

      Kuwaiti law prohibits all commercial relations with Israel [Getty]

Efforts to book a flight on the airline's website for later this month between the cities produced only an "Error Message".

This move comes after Kuwait Airways' booking system would not sell a ticket to Israeli citizen Eldad Gatt in 2013.

See Also: US warns citizens against boarding flights flying over Syria

Gatt filed a complaint with the transport department after he was denied a ticket through the airline's online booking system. The DoT initially ruled against Gatt, but Israeli authorities intervened to appeal the ruling.

The DoT then went back on its decision and ordered the airline to "cease and desist from refusing to transport Israeli citizens between the US and any third country where they are allowed to disembark".

The airline has said it was merely obeying Kuwaiti law prohibiting all commercial relations with Israeli entities, residents or nationals.

A US lawyer representing the airline said that US law does not authorise transport authorities to enforce consumer-protection provisions against the airlines, which "cannot lawfully comply with the terms".

The lawyer added that the airline did not discriminate based on religion and stressed that even a Muslim citizen of Israel would not legally be able to fly with Kuwait Airways.