Saudi Arabia, Oman & Kuwait halt all international flights; Indian airlines cancels flights

With the discovery of a new strain of CoVid-19 virus in the UK, the Maharashtra Government has swung into preventive measures to ensure they don’t have to deal with the repercussions of being caught unaware of the Virus another time. While the Government of India has barred flights from the UK in the coming days, and those who will arrive in the next 12 hours or so will be subject to an RT-PCR test, some Middle East Countries’ governments have gone for a total ban on international flights into their countries.

Middle East Countries impose a ban on all commercial air traffic

Saudi Arabia has suspended international flights for a week, effective Monday, December 21, 2020, onwards, and can extend this by another week due to the new CoVid-19 strain, as per Saudi Arabia’s General Authority of Civil Aviation. The Saudi Press Agency (SPA) said passengers who arrived in Saudi Arabia from Europe, or any country where the new strain was detected, would be required to self isolate for two weeks and undergo testing. This order exempts cargo flights.

Oman followed shortly after and decided to prohibit entry/exit to/from the Sultanate of Oman of passengers via all travel outlets with effect ‬‪from 01:00 hours local time on ‬‪Tuesday, December 22, 2020, for one week.‬ This exempts cargo flights, ships and trucks.

Kuwait was third in line, banning all commercial flights to and from Kuwait International Airport from 23:00 Local Time onwards on December 21, 2020, until January 01, 2021, and exempt cargo aircraft from the ban.

Unfortunately, these bans will affect India in some form or the other. Saudi Arabia was not allowing Indian citizens to enter the country; however, it was allowing the outward travel from KSA to India for those who wanted to leave the country. IndiGo, Air India, GoAir and Air India Express are some of the airlines which were operating frequent flights from Saudi Arabia to India. These airlines will cancel their flights to KSA.

Oman, on the other hand, had recently liberalised their visa regime to allow for people to visit the country from tourism purposes. This move means flights from India operating to Oman have been cancelled.

Kuwait faces a similar fate, with flights being cancelled for the foreseeable future.


Travel plans into the Middle East Countries will be disrupted at least until after the New Year. For now, the UAE is maintaining services as usual. Still, Oman, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia are not allowing commercial flights into the country until after New Year 2021, because of the new strain of CoVid-19 detected in the UK. Also, people returning from the Middle East into Maharashtra will be subject to institutional quarantine going forward.

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About Ajay

Ajay Awtaney is the Founder and Editor of Live From A Lounge (LFAL), a pioneering digital platform renowned for publishing news and views about aviation, hotels, passenger experience, loyalty programs, travel trends and frequent travel tips for the Global Indian. He is considered the Indian authority on business travel, luxury travel, frequent flyer miles, loyalty credit cards and travel for Indians around the globe. Ajay is a frequent contributor and commentator on the media as well, including ET Now, BBC, CNBC TV18, NDTV, Conde Nast Traveller and many other outlets.

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  1. U.K. discovered the mutated strain first, which is not to say it hasn’t mutated in other countries as this can happen anywhere in the world as a virus always mutates and it has been found in several countries of the world so although it is sensible to ban flights it won’t stop Covid-19 from mutating anywhere in the world. It’s what viruses do. This really is China’s gift that keeps giving .

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