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
By Courtney Trenwith
Tue 16 Jul 2013 11:09 AM

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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