Two Middle Eastern airlines say they are complying with new US entry restrictions introduced for passport-holders from seven Muslim countries. Both Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways say they are following requirements regarding citizens from Syria, Libya, Iran, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia and Sudan.
Under regulations enacted by new president Donald Trump, citizens of these seven nations are now required to either have diplomatic visas for the US or Green Card residency permits. Even Green Card holders are not guaranteed re-admittance to the US.
A government spokesperson told reporters at a press briefing that border control officers would be checking each individual with a Green Card when they entered the US. Administration representatives said on Saturday that Green Card holders from the affected nations needed to contact the US embassy in their country to make sure they would actually be allowed to pass through American immigration.
Qatar Airways posted up an advisory on its website over the weekend saying passengers would be denied boarding for US bound flights unless they had the documents specified by the US government. Etihad is based in the United Arab Emirates and said it was following suit and the new restrictions were already in force.
Qatar and Etihad both serve key US cities including Los Angeles, Washington and New York. In total, Qatar operates routes to 15 US destinations and others include Chicago and Boston. Qatar started enforcing the rules on Saturday and one elderly Iraqi traveller en route from Baghdad to the US was sent back when he changed aeroplanes at Doha’s Hamad International Airport.