Kuwait’s Wataniya faces three-month ban after cancelling flights

The airline is facing calls for compensation after Kuwait’s crown prince was forced to intervene to return stranded passengers



Kuwait’s Wataniya Airways has come under fire from MPs and the country’s aviation regulator after flight cancellations left passengers stranded.

On Saturday afternoon the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) issued an ultimatum to the airline, which resumed operations in July 2017 after a six-year absence blamed on its financial situation and political instability in the Middle East.

That evening Crown Prince Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah instructed the government to fly citizens affected by Wataniya flight cancellations home from cities including Istanbul, Baku and Sarajevo, according to state news agency KUNA.

Kuwait Airways said on Sunday it would operate charter flights to return passengers from the three cities after a government request.

Lawmakers on Sunday questioned the flight cancellations and demanded compensation for affected passengers.

Wataniya said the cancellations were due to a shortage of planes to lease after a larger summer rush for flights than expected and assured it would rectify the situation.

The carrier’s exclusive aircraft provider Golden Falcon Aviation confirmed an order for 25 Airbus A320neo jets worth around $2.8bn at list prices in July and it has revealed plans to launch services to markets including Egypt, the UAE, Lebanon, Jordan, Iran, India, Pakistan.

Read: Golden Falcon orders 25 A320neos for Kuwait’s Wataniya

Kuwait’s aviation regulator said in its Saturday announcement that several warnings had already been issued to the airline “to no avail”.

Wataniya will face a three-month ban as an interim penalty from September 6 if it does not fulfil its duties and correct problems including flight delays and cancellations, it warned.

Any further failings would then mean the airline has its licence revoked, the DGCA added.