Jul 16 2013
NYC Public Advocate & Mayoral Candidate threatens to pull JFK Airport slot from Saudi Arabian Airlines for not allowing Israeli passengers onto their flights
Saudi Arabian Airlines discriminates against Israeli nationals attempting to fly the airline out of New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport, even when passengers are simply looking to transfer in Saudi Arabia to another country, the City’s Public Advocate Bill de Blasio said, citing a probe his office conducted of the airline.
NY Post (h/t Liz) “Saudi Arabian Airlines uses U.S. airports and yet bans Israeli citizens from being able to fly on their airline,” he said. If the airline does not change their policy, “we will act to make sure they’re excluded from United States airports, starting with JFK,” De Blasio said. The airline’s Web site asks for citizenship to book a ticket but has no option on a drop-down menu for anyone holding an Israeli passport. The oversight doesn’t appear accidental — the drop-down menu is so thorough it even has an option for Antarctica.
“No city in the world has closer ties to Israel than we do, and yet Israeli citizens are being discriminated against right here at JFK. It’s not only illegal; it’s an affront to who we are,” said Public Advocate, and mayoral candidate, Bill de Blasio, who conducted a recent telephone sting on the Mideast nation’s airline.
“We won’t stop with just exposing these practices. We’ll pursue this with authorities in Albany and in Washington until Israeli nationals’ rights are respected,” added de Blasio, who is demanding an end to the practice in a letter to the airline that was obtained by The Post.
When a member of de Blasio’s staff called the airline pretending to be an Israeli citizen trying to fly from JFK to Mumbai, India, on Saudi Arabian Airlines, he was told it was a no-go. The caller told the booking agent that he couldn’t find Israel as an option on the Web site.
“I’m an Israeli citizen, and I didn’t see my nationality on there. I was wondering if I could just order the ticket through you,” the caller said. The booking agent asked: “Do you have any other passports, other than the Israeli passport?” When the caller said he didn’t, the agent put him on hold to check with a supervisor. The agent later informed the caller that he wouldn’t be welcome. “Since you have Israeli nationality, you will not be allowed to go on Saudi Airlines,” the agent said.