Initial reports Thursday night indicate that Kuwait’s DGCA (Directorate General of Civil Aviation) has been instructed to allow all airlines to resume operations in order to allow expatriates the ability to exit the country. This is another step in a series taken by the country with the goal of pushing out all non-essential non-citizens.
Still at the discussion level
During an online news conference, Kuwait government spokesperson Tareq Al-Mezrem announced a number of policies being considered or put into place. This includes the consideration of a full, nationwide curfew – as opposed to the current partial curfew.
According to Kuwait Times, Al-Mezrem was speaking after a cabinet meeting, during which the government directed the DGCA to allow the operation of all airlines in order to give expatriates the ability to return to their countries.
This news is extremely new and remains at the discussion level. There has yet to be any details from the DGCA or airlines regarding the re-opening of commercial operations and passenger flights.
The country imposed a full shutdown of passenger flights on March 13th, giving only 48-hours notice for those needing to enter or exit the country. Since then, only repatriation and deportation flights have taken place, including several by Kuwait Airways, Turkish Airlines, and EgyptAir.
Not a sign of improvement
Despite commercial flights being one aspect of ‘normal life’, this move does not indicate that the situation is improving in Kuwait. In fact, yesterday’s daily government briefing reported 55 new cases. The country’s totals at the time of writing show 910 confirmed cases, 111 recovered, and one deceased.
The majority of new cases in the past week have been identified within the country’s large South Asian expat community. With Indians and Bangladeshis primarily in Kuwait to earn money to send home to families, the population often lives in small and crowded apartments in order to save on housing expenses.
As many aspects of Kuwaiti life have been shut down, many expats are no longer needed and are being encouraged to leave the country. The Kuwaiti government has declared April a month of amnesty for “visa violators”. In doing so, it has assigned specific nationalities certain weeks where they can report themselves and avoid fines and get a flight ‘home’ at the expense of the government.
It will be interesting to see how this situation unfolds. There are huge questions remaining – primarily ‘when’ and ‘how’ this move is to be implemented. As airlines would carry very few passengers into Kuwait due to travel restrictions, it’s hard to know if they would even bother resuming operations to the country. Flying cargo into Kuwait would have to be an additional incentive.
Simple Flying contacted both Kuwait Airways and Jazeera Airways for comment. While no response has been received from Kuwait Airways, a Jazeera Airways spokesperson says the airline is still waiting for details.