Kuwait Airways cancels key route to avoid US anti-discrimination law

January 16, 2016 01:33

The alternative was for the airline to end its policy of discriminating against Israeli passengers.

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Kuwait Airways

Kuwait Airways. (photo credit: STEVE FITZGERALD/WIKIMEDIA)

WASHINGTON – Kuwait Airways will cease its passenger service from New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport to London Heathrow Airport, part of a popular route between the US and the Persian Gulf, after facing US legal action for its discrimination against Israeli passengers.

The Kuwaiti national airline chose to end its service effective January 18, in order to retain its discriminatory policy, the US Department of Transportation said.

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Kuwaiti law prevents the airline from issuing tickets to Israelis as part of a broader set of laws in line with the Arab League’s boycott of persons conducting business with Israel.

“The US Department of Transportation will not tolerate unlawful discrimination, and has mandated that the airline immediately cease that practice and allow Israeli passengers to travel between the US and London,” Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said. With the termination of service, he continued, “Kuwait Airways is no longer offering or conducting service between JFK and LHR that discriminates against Israeli citizens. We will continue acting decisively to enforce our laws against unlawful discrimination in the US transportation system.”

In September, the US determined that the airline was likely in violation of the Interstate Commerce Act for unreasonably discriminating against passengers.

Kuwait Airways may also have violated US laws against the boycott of and divestment from Israel and its citizens, the Transportation Department wrote in a letter to the airline at the end of the month.

“We’ve stood firm on this,” a Transportation official told The Jerusalem Post in November, noting Kuwait’s effort to have the department reconsider. “It’s something the secretary takes very seriously.”

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