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Confusion reigned Sunday at airports in the Middle East and Europe over exactly which citizens from the seven nations subject to President Donald Trump’s travel ban are still permitted to fly to the U.S.
Airlines at hubs from Dubai to London Heathrow were grappling with the implications of two court rulings in the U.S. late Saturday that have temporarily blocked the enforcement of parts of Trump’s executive order.
In the hours after the presidential edict many airports imposed blanket bans on U.S. travel for citizens of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen, with Amsterdam Schiphol turning away seven people with valid visas, and Cairo denying boarding to migrants accompanied by United Nations officials. While the court decisions in Brooklyn, New York, and Alexandria, Virginia, appear to now allow entry for both of those categories, airports and airlines are still coming to terms with the implications.
A security official at the American Airlines Group Inc. check-in desk at Heathrow’s Terminal 3 said Sunday that he’d seen news of the court rulings overnight, but that no further guidance had filtered through from the carrier’s U.S. base. Passengers holding passports from the seven countries will therefore all be turned away, in line with the executive order.
“Nothing has changed,” he said.
Airports like Heathrow, Amsterdam and their Persian Gulf rivals are particularly affected by the presidential instruction because the seven countries affected have few or no direct U.S. flights, compelling people from those states to fly via major hubs.
‘Difficult to Explain’
A Delta Air Lines Inc. supervisor at Heathrow said staff had been briefed on the matter Sunday and suggested the situation had become “clearer,” but that travel was still being limited to holders of green cards and diplomatic visas. Even then there has been some confusion with Homeland Security officials, she said. The U.S. carrier will refund anyone refused travel, the official said, adding that it has so far turned away “a few” people, which has been “very difficult to explain” to those concerned.
In the Gulf, Qatar Airways, Etihad Airways PJSC and Emirates of Dubai are advising that passengers from the seven nations targeted by Trump can fly to the U.S. if they hold green cards or NATO visas, or are diplomatic officials or UN representatives. Abu Dhabi-based Etihad also said people of dual nationality may travel if they hold a passport from a country not affected by the ban and have a visa.
At the same time, the carriers make no mention of travel by ordinary citizens of the seven countries who have valid visas, or involving refugees from those nations, which the U.S. court rulings indicated should still be permitted.
Emirates, the world’s biggest long-haul airline, said it has so far suffered no significant disruption from the Trump order. About 20 people were affected by the travel ban on Saturday.
In Amsterdam, KLM, a unit of Air France-KLM Group, was unable to say whether passengers like those turned away Saturday would now be able to travel following the legal intervention.
“We simply follow the information we get from immigration and airline authorities in the U.S.,” spokeswoman Manel Vrijenhoek said. “They make that call. It’s not up to KLM.”
–With assistance from Alan Katz
©2017 Bloomberg L.P.
This article was written by John Ainger and Deena Kamel Yousef from Bloomberg and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.