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Kuwait hopeful of ending flight row with India

world Updated: Jun 28, 2007 18:07 IST
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Kuwait has expressed optimism that the row over a possible ban on landing of state-owned Indian airliners in its capital will be resolved amicably as the two countries prepare to hold talks on the issue.

A high-level Indian delegation comprising joint secretary of the Aviation Ministry, RK Singh and representatives of 'Air India' and 'Indian' will arrive in Kuwait later today for talks which will last until Friday.

"An Indian delegation will arrive in Kuwait and we will begin negotiations about the issue. We will reach an agreement and the results will be announced before or on Saturday," a senior official of Kuwait's Department of Civil Aviation, Salah Al-Armeni was quoted as saying in Kuwait Times.

The airline row comes at a time when thousands of passengers are preparing to fly to India for summer holidays.

Kuwait had issued a notice to 'Air India' and 'Indian' saying it will not receive flights of the airlines from July 1 in the capital, alleging that New Delhi was going back on commitments in the air bilateral agreement between both countries.

A bilateral agreement was signed between the states last year allowing for 5,200 seats per week for both states. Kuwait has requested the limit be raised in addition to requesting that Kuwait's carriers be allowed to pick up passengers from third countries.

While Kuwait Airways and Al-Jazeera operate daily flights to India, Air India and Indian maintain a total of seven flights per week out of Kuwait.

A Kuwait Airways representative, speaking to Kuwait Times on Wednesday, said "All flights are on schedule and we have not received any official papers stating we should stop flights on July 1."

Private carrier Al-Jazeera Airlines, which runs ten out of thirteen of its Kuwait-India flights via Dubai, said it has not received any official word about the possible ban.

"There is no official news. If anything develops, we will tell passengers 24 hours prior to their flights. In case of a problem, we would provide refunds or credits...Whatever will suit our clients."

Local travel agencies also said there has been no official word for a halt in flights issued to their offices. "We are booking flights as usual," said travel agent Fawaz Ali. "If there is a stoppage of flights, it is news to us."

There are currently around 550,000 Indians in Kuwait, many of whom are set to travel home for the summer. "We have not heard anything yet so I assume we will receive the official announcement on Saturday," said Ali.

Top regional managers of both Air India and Indian in Dubai have said passengers wishing to cancel their flight bookings can do so without paying any cancellation charges.