Stock Kuwait airport passengers
Kuwait International Airport saw a 300 per cent decrease in passengers in 2020 compared to the previous year. Image Credit: AP

Kuwait City: Due to the travel restrictions and lockdowns imposed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Kuwait International Airport saw a massive decrease in passengers in 2020 compared to the previous year, local media reported.

The Director of the Air Transport Department at the Directorate General for Civil Aviation (DGCA), Abdullah Al Rajhi, pointed out that in 2019 there were a total of 15.448 million passengers traveling to and from Kuwait. Then in 2020, that number decreased by 11.57 million to 3.875 million passengers.

Al Rajhi pointed out that out of the 52 companies operating at the airport, only 47 of them are still working.

By implanting strict health measures on passengers, Al Rajhi explained that the number of detected COVID-19 cases brought into the country by travellers remains low. He stated that out of the 3,000 domestic workers that arrived in Kuwait over the past few months, only five cases of COVID-19 have been detected.

Airport closure

The airport saw several changes through the past year from month long closures to reduced number of passengers per day.

The first shut down of the airport happened on March 13, 2020 over growing fear of the spread of the COVID-19 virus. On August 1, after a five-month halt, the airport reopened but with new health measures put in place. Most notably was, and is still in effect, the ban on barring passengers arriving from 35 “high risk countries” from traveling to Kuwait directly.

Then on December 21, Kuwait closed its airport, including its land and sea borders, over growing concern of the new COVID strain that was emerging in the United Kingdom and Europe. Two weeks later, the airport was reopened but a quota was implemented dictating that no more than 1,000 passengers can arrive in Kuwait a day.

Since February 7, non-Kuwaiti were barred from entering Kuwait until further notice.