German airline Lufthansa has apologised after more than 100 Jewish passengers were barred from a flight leaving Frankfurt Airport.
The Orthodox Jewish travellers had arrived in Frankfurt from New York and were due to take an onward flight to Budapest, but more than 100 people were denied boarding by staff at the airport, with one seen in a video saying: "[it was] Jewish people who were the mess, who made the problems.”
Lufthansa said in a statement that it "regrets the circumstances surrounding the decision to exclude the affected passengers from the flight", and has apologised "not only for the inconvenience, but also for the offence caused and personal impact."
The shocking scene, first reported by travel blog Dan's Deals, occurred on Wednesday, May 4, when over 100 Jewish passengers attempted to board a flight to Budapest from Frankfurt Airport.
The group were on their way to Budapest from New York on an annual pilgrimage to commemorate a Chasidic rabbi. There were reportedly two organised groups making the trip, along with a large number who had booked individually.
It is claimed by passengers that Lufthansa employees at Frankfurt Airport barred all passengers who appeared visibly Jewish from boarding the connecting flight after a very small number of passengers refused to wear a mask on the inbound flight from New York.
'Jewish people were the mess, they made the problemss'— The Jewish Chronicle (@JewishChron) May 9, 2022
An angry passenger confronts @lufthansa staff member after Jewish passengers were banned from a flight on the airline after a dispute over facemasks. pic.twitter.com/XARkJyRqWZ
In a viral video, a member of Lufthansa staff is asked why Jewish passengers were being prevented from boarding the plane due to the actions of a few people: “The non-Jewish people on the flight went. Why are only the Jewish people paying for other people’s crimes?”
The staff member replied: “Because it’s Jews coming from JFK.”
The passenger responded: “Oh, so Jewish people coming from JFK are paying for the crimes of a few people?”
Eventually, the airline employee said: “If you want to do it like this, [it was] Jewish people who were the mess, who made the problems.”
The passenger then asked: “So Jewish people on the plane made a problem, so all Jews are banned from Lufthansa for the day?”
The airline employee replied: “Just for this flight.”
In a statement issued on Tuesday, Lufthansa reiterated its position that some passengers were not wearing masks on the flight from New York, but apologised for what took place, saying that only the passengers who did not comply with cabin crew should have been prevented from boarding.
The statement reads: "On May 4, a large number of booked passengers were denied boarding on their onward flight with LH 1334 from Frankfurt to Budapest. Lufthansa regrets the circumstances surrounding the decision to exclude the affected passengers from the flight, for which Lufthansa sincerely apologises.
"The reasoning for the decision was based upon various instances of non-compliance by numerous guests with mask requirements and crew-safety instructions on the previous flight LH401 from New York to Frankfurt.
"Regulatory requirements in Germany and other markets obligate airlines to enforce the wearing of medical or FFP2 masks on board flights for all passengers and crew members.
"While Lufthansa is still reviewing the facts and circumstances of that day, we regret that the large group was denied boarding rather than limiting it to the non-compliant guests.
"We apologise to all the passengers unable to travel on this flight, not only for the inconvenience, but also for the offence caused and personal impact."
Lufthansa regrets the circumstances surrounding the decision to exclude passengers from flight LH 1334 on May 4. Lufthansa sincerely apologizes. Please find our statement below: pic.twitter.com/kTCGxxQfen— Lufthansa News (@lufthansaNews) May 10, 2022
The statement adds: "Lufthansa and its employees stand behind the goal of connecting people and cultures worldwide.
"Diversity and equal opportunity are core values for our company and our corporate culture. What transpired is not consistent with Lufthansa’s policies or values. We have zero tolerance for racism, anti-Semitism and discrimination of any type.
"We will be engaging with the affected passengers to better understand their concerns and openly discuss how we may improve our customer service."
Lufthansa has been widely criticised over the incident, with Jewish leaders from around the world condemning the airline for what appeared to be clear discrimination against Orthodox Jews.
One member of the Bundestag (German parliament) wrote on social media: "Excluding Jews from a flight because they were recognisable as Jewish is a scandal. I expect German companies, in particular, to be aware of anti-Semitism."