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Trump’s travel ban: Middle East airlines, airports make adjustments

In the most sweeping use of his presidential powers since taking office a week ago, Donald Trump signed an order on Friday suspending the entry of people from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen for at least 90 days.

The travel curbs took effect immediately, wreaking havoc and confusion for would-be travellers with passports from the seven countries. Airlines operating from the Middle East have already made changed their crew and updated travel alerts in response to the ban.

Emirates changes pilots, crew

The Emirates airline has had to change flight attendant and pilot rosters on services to the United States following the sudden travel ban on seven Muslim-majority countries, an airline spokeswoman said Sunday.

“The recent change to the U.S. entry requirements for nationals of 7 countries applies to all travellers and flight operations crew,” the spokeswoman said in emailed comments. “We have made the necessary adjustments to our crewing, to comply with the latest requirements.”

Airlines at Beirut implement measures

Airlines operating at Beirut’s Rafic Hariri International Airport have begun implementing measures in compliance with U.S. President’s travel ban on refugees, airport sources said on Sunday.

The measures would include denying U.S.-bound travel for nationals from those countries – Syria, Iraq, Iran, Somalia, Sudan, Libya and Yemen – who were not U.S. green card holders, the sources said.

U.S.-bound journeys from Beirut typically involve transfers in Europe, Turkey or Gulf Arab countries.

Qatar Airways issues advisory

Qatar Airways advised passengers bound for the US on Saturday from the newly banned countries that they needed to have either a U.S. green card or diplomatic visa.

“Nationals of the following countries: Sudan, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Iran, Iraq, Yemen … may travel to the U.S. only if they are in possession of a permanent resident card (Green card) or any of the below visas,” it said in a statement on its website.

It listed foreign government, United Nations, international organization and NATO visas.

Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways has also issued a similar travel alert on its website.

Boarding denied

In Cairo, five Iraqi passengers and one Yemeni were barred from boarding an EgyptAir flight to New York on Saturday, sources at Cairo airport said. Dutch airline KLM said on Saturday it had refused carriage to the United States to seven passengers from predominately Muslim countries.

Canada’s WestJet Airlines said it turned back a passenger bound for the United States on Saturday in order to comply with the order. A spokeswoman did not say which country the passenger had come from.

At least three lawyers from the International Refugee Assistance Project were at the arrivals lounge at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport, buried in their laptops and conference calls, photocopies of individuals’ U.S. visas on hand.

(With inputs from Reuters)