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British Airways Flight 149
Occurrence summary
Date 2 August 1990
Type Passengers and crew taken hostage hours after the Gulf War started
Site Kuwait City, Kuwait
Passengers 367
Crew 18
Fatalities 1
Survivors 384
Aircraft type Boeing 747-136
Operator British Airways
Tail number G-AWND
Flight origin London Heathrow Airport
Stopover Kuwait International Airport
Destination Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah Airport

British Airways Flight 149 was a flight between London Heathrow Airport and Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah Airport, (the former international airport for Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia) operated by British Airways Boeing 747-136 G-AWND. The flight never reached Kuala Lumpur after stopping for a scheduled refuelling at Kuwait International Airport, near Kuwait City, several hours after the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait on the night of 1 August 1990. The aircraft operating the flight, its passengers and crew, were captured by Iraqi forces and the passengers and crew held hostage. One passenger, a member of the Kuwaiti Royal Family, was killed by the Iraqis.[1] The remaining passengers were later freed and the aircraft was destroyed. Allegations were raised that the airline deliberately had not diverted in order to insert British SAS troops into the country.



The flight left London Heathrow Airport for Kuala Lumpur via Kuwait and Madras around 6:15 p.m. on 1 August 1990. It had been delayed by, according to BA, a faulty air-conditioning unit. The flight's scheduled stop at Kuwait City was not changed, despite media reports of the worsening political situation in the region due to Iraqi demands for Kuwait to surrender territory. At 8:00 a.m. on 2 August 1990, the flight landed at Kuwait International Airport, four hours after the Iraqi invasion began. After the passengers disembarked the aircraft, the airport was attacked, firstly by Iraqi fighter bomber aircraft, then overrun by tanks and soldiers by 7am. The passengers and crew of Flight 149 were detained.


After being detained, a flight attendant was reported to have been raped by the Iraqi soldiers. [1] Citizens of Western nations were taken from Kuwait to Baghdad where they were held as human shields alongside other Westerners in Kuwait at that time. Eventually most of them were released by the Iraqis before Desert Storm began.

The aircraft itself was destroyed during the Gulf War, either by Allied bombing, or by the Iraqis themselves.


Several court actions were raised by some of the passengers of the flight against British Airways for negligence in landing at Kuwait after the Iraqi invasion, and for loss of property. Conspiracy theories allege that the United Kingdom government transported intelligence agents or SAS troops to Kuwait aboard the flight, and otherwise it would not have landed in a potential war zone. However the UK government has denied this allegation.

On 15 July 1999, French passengers won damages from British Airways to the amount of £2.5 million.

In a recent Discovery Channel documentary, the presence of at least 2 SAS intelligence officers aboard Flight 149 was alleged. The documentary also revealed that the Thatcher administration was not aware of the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait until just one hour before Flight 149 was scheduled to land. Moreover, the documentary does not accuse the administration of inserting the SAS soldiers using the flight.

After the aerial attacks by Iraqi aircraft, including orchestrated bomb runs near the airport terminal, most passengers were transferred to the airport transit hotel, within the airport building before Iraqi tanks and troops over-ran the airport, by Kuwaiti ground personnel.

The passengers were confined to various hotels in Kuwait also designated by the Iraqis for other foreigners to report to. These included the SAS and Regency Palace hotels.

Detainees were then bused, with two or three police and armed soldiers as escorts, to Baghdad in a process that started within a few weeks of August 1. They were accommodated primarily on upper floors of the Melia Mansour Hotel, and transferred out to a variety of military and civilian locations as human shields. Western media were allowed to take pictures of the detainees swimming and playing tennis during one or two hours room breaks from the hotel.

See also

External links


  1. ^ Last Flight to Kuwait, BBC Two, 19 March 2007.


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