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Kuwait Airways Cancels New York-London Route Rather Than Letting Israelis Fly

After being threatened with legal action by the U.S. Department of Transportation, Kuwait Airways, the Gulf kingdom’s national airline, is cancelling flights between New York and London rather than let Israelis fly on those routes.

The Department of Transportation sent a warning letter to Kuwait Airways in September after Eldad Gatt, an Israeli citizen, was unable to buy a ticket from JFK to Heathrow on the airline’s website. It is against Kuwaiti law to do business with any Israeli “citizen or company,” but the department warned that it was against American law to refuse to transport someone between two countries that do allow Israeli visitors. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said at the time that the case serves as a warning that “any airline that wishes to operate in the U.S. should know that we will not tolerate discrimination of any kind in our skies.” In response, the airline announced Tuesday that they were dropping the route.

“It is unfortunate that Kuwait Airways has decided to suspend its service, instead of accepting Israeli citizens as passengers,” Jeffrey Lovitky, a lawyer representing Gatt, told USA Today. “This demonstrates Kuwait’s stubborn refusal to give up its boycott of Israeli citizens.”

Kuwait is one of 16 countries that bans entry to holders of Israeli passports.

[Photo: Alan Lebeda / Wikimedia]