Kuwait Airways Case: Results of FOIA Request
Posted on September 6, 2016
A coda to the Kuwait Airways case. This, recall, is the case of the airline that refused to sell a ticket to a passenger traveling on an Israeli passport, citing the Kuwaiti law that forbade doing business with Israelis. After some hemming and hawing, the Department of Transportation made it clear to the airline that such discrimination was unlawful, and the airline stopped providing service from New York to London (as I understand it, the airline still flies from New York to Kuwait City, and that seems okay to me, as an airline shouldn’t be compelled to transport passengers who will be refused entry on arrival in another country, as Israelis would be in Kuwait).
As I am sometimes apt to do, I sent a FOIA request to the Department of Transportation to find out what had happened behind the scenes. Was there any interesting correspondence between the Department and the lawyers for the aggrieved Israeli traveler, Eldad Gatt? Any interesting correspondence with the airline’s lawyers?
It took a while, but the DOT has now provided the documents I requested. Unfortunately, the government told me that there was no correspondence with Mr. Gatt. There was, however, some correspondence with the airline’s lawyers at Eckert Seamans.
There is little of interest in the correspondence, except for one line from the airline’s press release announcing the suspension of service from New York to London. (It’s on the sixth page of the PDF):
In line with Kuwait Airways’ phased commercial strategy to enhance its network and schedule, the airline is announcing the suspension of its services carrying passengers between London Heathrow and New York’s JFK airport.
I know it’s a press release, but really! Not exactly a profile in courage. I suppose “Because the American government insists that we do business with Israelis …” wouldn’t have made a very good press release.