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KUWAIT CITY, Jan 23: The new decision to reduce the number of passengers to 1,000 coming to Kuwait from Sunday onwards has not only left travellers confused but also airlines and travel operators from this sudden decision.
According to sources related to aviation, tourism and travel industry in Kuwait, 21,000 passengers are to be affected by this decision who were expected to arrive in Kuwait in coming days, the passengers had already done their reservations before the decision came into effect.
On Friday there was high demand for airline ticket reservation for Friday and Saturdays flights which prompted a hike in ticket prices upto 300%. Some tickets exceeded 500 KD coming from nearby destinations. Seats available during these two days were sold out in a few minutes, report Al Rai. Instead of 5,000 passengers per day it has been reduced now to 1,000 passengers were within the framework of the first phase of gradual return to airport operations.
The decision has been an alternative instead of more stringent measures after two cases of a new strain of coronavirus which were discovered in two female passengers who returned from the UK to Kuwait. This has raised an alarm and to carry out 100% checks on all arrivals.
The Directorate General of Civil Aviation stated that the departure flights will not pose any threat to the health situation in Kuwait and does not stop anyone who wishes to fly out.
Regarding the reasons for reducing the number of passengers by 80%, days before the start of the second phase of the gradual operation of the airport and increasing the number of passengers coming to Kuwait, the sources suggested that the matter comes in the face of the spread of the mutated Coronavirus.
The health authorities began to anticipate more stringent procedures which consisted of examining all the passengers to Kuwait upon arrival. As per the Council of Ministers decision to charge the airlines for PCR test, to which the private sector has yet to finish preparations.
The sources stated that Airlines and travel agents have already begun to reschedule their flights according to new requirements. If Airlines fly 3 flights per day to Kuwait Airport it will reduce it to one flight per day by cancelling two flights and changing the flying dates according to the status of each flight. Flying with a limited number of passengers will not be of operational feasibility, and companies will be burdened with a greater burden that increases their suffering due to the repercussions of the spread of the Coronavirus.
Muhammad Al-Mutairi stated that “Sudden reduction of passengers by 80% to fly to Kuwait is a total disaster for passengers or travel and tourism companies or for airlines. It is not reasonable for any airlines to operate as it doesn’t even cover fuel cost. Doubling the price of tickets several times to a level where no passengers can afford has left everyone in an extreme confusion. The demand for tickets increased by 300% and seats for Friday and Saturday were filled immediately. It is strange to hear that prices of tickets to Kuwait from Europe will reach to 1,500 KD”
The average passengers at Kuwait International Airport reaches 2,500 on a daily basis which will now decrease to 1,500. Many passengers out of fear changed their plans of the consequences of the decision, the inability to return back on time or the high ticket prices.
Al-Bashir, who is the general manager of a travel company stated that many expat workers from banned 35 countries who were scheduled to return on Jan 24th have begun to change their plans especially those who completed 14 days in non banned countries rushed to book their reservations instead of waiting for prices of tickets to double from Dubai which can reach upto KD 500 per ticket.
He further stated that 3 new problems have cropped up with this issue. First is how to give priority to passengers to board the flights, second is new reservations as some existing passengers were making new reservations to return to Kuwait before the decision was enforced. Third problem is return policy as flights have not been cancelled but rather reduce the number of passengers which requires special policy to deal with this matter.
Why are domestic workers are not subjected to the decision?
Concerned sources indicated that the exclusion of domestic workers from the decision to reduce the number of arriving passengers is based on the mechanism of their return. High levels of precautionary measures have been taken in a number of PCR tests, institutional quarantine for 14 days.