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Tue 25 Mar 2003 04:00 AM

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Kuwait Airways gets helping hand from Emirates

Regional carriers resume flights to the emirate despite conflict in neighbouring Iraq.

Emirates agreed on March 23 to endorse tickets valid on Kuwait Airways (KAC) flights, after the Kuwaiti airline suspended all its services with the exception of those to Dubai and Cairo.The agreement will mean that customers booked on KAC routes such as Kuwait-Dubai- Singapore can now travel on Emirates with the same ticket.The Endorsement Waiver Agreement between the two airlines, which came into force from March 23, will enable Kuwait Airways to rebook its passengers on Emirates flights where there is availability. Emirates also insisted that KAC passengers who had not rebooked would be considered on a standby basis.Normal circumstances would usually dictate that Kuwait Airways endorse its own tickets before passengers can use them on Emirates. However, in the current climate, both airlines have opted for a greater degree of flexibility.“In this extraordinary situation, Emirates is offering every assistance to Kuwait Airways and its passengers to whom we will extend every consideration,” said Ghaith Al Ghaith, commercial operations director, Emirates.The two airlines have agreed that this arrangement will stay in place until further notice.Despite the evolving geo-political situation in the region, Emirates has continued to operate a normal service, including regular flights to Kuwait City. Although certain schedules have been altered, the airline has laid on a variety of alternative routes to ease disruption.“The airline is monitoring the situation 24 hours a day, seven days a week to ensure in every way we can the well-being of our flight and cabin crews and our passengers,” said Maurice Flanagan, Emirates group director.“Where necessary, we will use alternative routes. These are well established and recognised as safe by all international aviation authorities. Emirates has never flown over Iraq, even under normal conditions, and none of our routes takes our aircraft near to that country,” he added. Meanwhile, other regional airlines are also carrying on despite the war. Both Qatar Airways (QA) and Gulf Air resumed flights to Kuwait on March 23.“Qatar Airways was the first regional airline to fly into Kuwait when the airport re-opened last Friday. We have been operating our normal daily flight to Kuwait ever since, using safe corridors approved by the International Civil Aviation Organisation,” said Akbar Al Baker, QA’s chief executive. “As long as the airport remains open, we will continue to fly to Kuwait.”Gulf Air likewise resumed operations to Kuwait on March 23, after announcing that 97% of its flights to 43 destinations were operating with minimal disruption.“Our crisis management team has been monitoring the situation around the clock, and based on advice from local airport and civil aviation authorities, we believe it is appropriate to recommence flights," said Captain Hameed Ali, operations vice-president, Gulf Air.

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