Coronavirus in KuwaitKuwait

Commercial flights to resume gradually in Kuwait, aviation authority confirms

KUWAIT: Egyptian citizens queue at Kuwait International Airport before boarding a repatriation flight to Cairo on May 5, 2020. — Photo by Yasser Al-Zayyat

By B Izzak
KUWAIT: Kuwait’s civil aviation authority said yesterday that they have designed a plan for a gradual resumption of commercial flights as soon as the government gives the green signal. Commercial flights have been suspended at Kuwait Airport for the past several weeks as part of measures to combat the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. But dozens of repatriation flights operated from the airport either to bring back Kuwaitis or to send expats back home.
Spokesman for the Directorate General of Civil Aviation Saad Al-Oteibi told the assembly television yesterday that the plan consists of three phases. Under the first phase, the airport will resume 20-30 percent of its operations which will rise to 60 percent in the second phase. He did not give a definitive timeframe for the resumption but said it should happen “soon”. However he added that the final phase will take a long time to complete.

Oteibi said the airport authorities have prepared strict preventive measures that include thermal cameras, social distancing, new arrangements inside aircrafts and also a different setup inside the airport. Travel in post-coronavirus will be different from travel before the pandemic, he said.
The health ministry meanwhile assured the public yesterday that the situation is well under control and there is no cause for panic from the steep rise in the number of new cases. Spokesman for the ministry Abdullah Al-Sanad said that the rise in cases is within the expected range and because the ministry teams have resorted to intensive testing and active surveillance.

School year
In the meantime, MP Faisal Al-Kandari said yesterday that he has sent a letter to be debated during the next session and calling to cancel the school year due to fears from the spread of coronavirus among students.
But Education Minister Saud Al-Harbi said after chairing a high level meeting at the ministry that there is no change in the ministry plan to resume study in August for the 12th grade and in late September for other classes to complete the current school year. Several lawmakers have already called on the government to scrap the school year and promote students to the next level over fears of the virus.

Separately, rapporteur of the assembly health and labour committee MP Saadoun Hammad said the committee will be assigned by the national assembly to investigate contracts signed by the health ministry for the coronavirus crisis. He said that there have been allegations that the costs of some contracts were highly exaggerated and the committee will review all the contracts by inviting all concerned authorities.
The State Audit Bureau said last week that government agencies signed contracts worth KD. 312 million since the start of March for the coronavirus crisis, most of them for the health ministry. The Bureau acknowledged that it rejected 11 contracts for the health ministry over inflated prices.

Kafeel Syetem
In other news, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Social Affairs Abdulaziz Shuaib denied yesterday that the ministry has any specific plans to abolish the sponsor or ‘kafeel’ system blamed for creating visa trading in the country.
Reports said on Wednesday that Minister of Social Affairs and State Minister for Economic Affairs Mariam Al-Aqeel has already sent the plan to the council of ministers for considerartion. But Shuaib said the whole matter is a study on the issue received by the ministry which in turn sent to related government agencies.

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