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Imperial Airways once flew over Kuwait skies

February 9, 2019

KUWAIT: Back in the early to mid-1900s, Kuwait was one of the many stops for Imperial Airways, which covered destinations in Europe, South Africa, India and the Far East. Established in March 31, 1924, the long-range commercial airliner functioned until its operations ceased on Nov 24, 1939. In a research published in “Letters of Kuwait”, historian Khaled Abdulghani revealed that Imperial Airways’ first flights in the Gulf region dated backed to 1929, adding that this was followed by the establishment of the Cairo-Basra route. The route was meant as a transit for the airliner on the way to Australia, said Abdulghani.

He indicated that Kuwait was not considered initially as part of Imperial Airways’ stops; however, the then Amir of Kuwait Sheikh Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah and the British Gulf Residency struck an agreement, which led to the inclusion of the country in the airliner’s regional stops. The British residency requested from Kuwait that Imperial Airways would not be asked to pay landing fees, a request granted by Sheikh Ahmad.

On Oct 18, 1932, Kuwait saw the first historical landing of an Imperial Airways plane on its soil, an event witnessed by the Amir and Lieutenant Colonel Harold Richard Patrick Dickson – British administrator in the Middle East – and many people. The airstrip was located behind one of the gates of Kuwait’s protective wall. Imperial Airways continued flights to Kuwait, leading to the construction of a 60 sq ft rest area for travelers awaiting their flights.

By 1935 and after the signing of the civil aviation agreement between Kuwait and Imperial Airways, flights doubled to Kuwait with more departing and arriving flights. In Jan 1938, the airline halted its flights to Kuwait due to economic reasons and by the advent of WWII, Imperial Airways ceased its operations.

Kuwaittimes