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Tue 16 Jul 2013 11:09 AM

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Saudia threatened with New York ban over Israeli policy

National carrier’s ban on Israeli passengers said to breach US federal law

Saudia threatened with New York ban over Israeli policy
Saudi airline

Saudi Arabian Airlines has been threatened with expulsion from New York’s John F Kennedy Airport because it refuses to sell tickets to Israeli-passport holders.

The New York City Public Advocate, who acts as an ombudsman, said the discrimination breached federal US law and unless the airline changed its policy he would move to have it banned from US airports.

“Saudi Arabian Airlines uses US airports and yet bans Israeli citizens from being able to fly on their airline,” Bill de Blasio was quoted as saying in local media.

“[If the airline does not change its policy] we will act to make sure they’re excluded from United States airports, starting with JFK.”

US federal law states that an “air carrier or foreign air carrier may not subject a person in air transportation to discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex or ancestry”.

De Blasio said the Saudia policy also was illegal under New York State legislation.

He had written to the airline, Saudi Arabia’s national carrier, warning that unless Israelis were allowed to fly on its planes he would seek to have the airline expelled from US airports.

De Blasio said his office had investigated the airline after complaints from New York Israelis.

The airline’s website did not have an option for Israeli passport holders in its dropdown menu requesting customers to select their nationality, despite including Antarctica, which does not issue passports.

When someone from his office called the Saudia customer phone line and asked to book a flight from New York to India via Riyadh using an Israeli passport they were told that was not possible, he said.

It is the second time Saudia’s policy towards Israelis has caused anger in the US, which is the Jewish state’s closest ally.

In 2011, the American Jewish community protested against the alliance between Saudia and American carrier Delta based on its rumoured policy not to allow Israeli passport holders on board.

De Blasio said while the discriminatory policy was only a rumour in 2011, it was now clearly official.

“It’s quite formal now. You can see with your own eyes on their website,” he told The Algemeiner newspaper.

“And by now making it official they violate our laws. We need to make sure they are excluded from the American market or they change their policy and act according to our laws.”

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Nezaud 6 years ago

Personally, nothing to worry about. Bill de Blasio another hipocrates who is looking to make quick cash? .

Ponder 6 years ago

I realize the point is moot but if you want to fly from New York to India why, oh, why would you choose Saudia of all airlines? Not like you can enter the city on that passport.

Lina Johns 6 years ago

Well US Airports require Transit Visa if thou want stop by one of their Airports (For those who need entry VISA to access the US). No VISA no Boarding as simple as this. The same goes for Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia is not like Dubai they require Transit Visa as well if you want to access one of their Airports. So before acting smart people should revise their own polices as well. The Israeli national (which actually Saudi Arabia do not recognize at their grounds) should apply for a Saudi Transit Visa and let see if it possible to get it.

Alex 6 years ago

Another example of US bully-tactics.

I wonder if these "federal laws" would have been enforced if it were any other citizenship who had been refused service by the Saudi airlines.

ps: US airports are still refusing to process Palestinian laissez-passer.

Saudi Engineer 6 years ago

Excellent point. Put the word "Israeli" on your website, and if they ever try to apply for a transit visa of any kind they can send back the application with a big red REJECTED stamp on it!

Phil 6 years ago

It coudn't possibly be the fact that he's concerned that Saudia violates US law with discriminatory policies against millions of people based on their nationality alone, could it?

Steve 6 years ago

This is an absolute joke. Israel is not recognised by the Arabic world on political grounds and therefore their passports are not recognised. Why should an airline be forced by the US Government to change such an important political stance in the face of the actions of Israel just because they think it's 'discriminatory'. If they want to see discrimination, maybe they should visit Israel then Palestine and see who's discriminating.

nimby 6 years ago

Of course there is a simple solution that certain contributors always refer to here: If you dont like the rules leave.

So if you dont like the rules in US, dont fly there.
Simple.

zeinab 6 years ago

Phil why does the us impose a visa requirement on anyone that wants to fly through their country transit based on nationality?
I and millions of people call the discrimination. when you live in aglass house you don't throw rocks at others.

Mike 6 years ago

Has anyone asked whether a Saudi can fly on Israeli airlines? Or whether they discriminate too? How about an Arab wearing traditional clothes boards an El Al flight and let's see how they react provided he can even buy a ticket with an Arab passport! It's also quite bad reporting to not mention this.