Two UK charities that were forced to postpone a visit to Jewish orphans in Ukraine are facing a loss of £17,500 in a dispute with Polish airline, Lot.
A group of 30 university students were due to take part in the Genesis trip, an annual visit to the Tikva orphanage in Odessa co-organised by Aish and the Jewish Learning Exchange.
The visit, planned for earlier this month, was delayed after concerns were raised that the violent events in Ukraine would put the students’ safety at risk.
The organisers asked Lot to change the tickets they had booked to a future date, but, according to the charities, the airline refused.
Rabbi Saul Kelly, the Aish UK campus director, said Lot would change the tickets only if the Foreign Office issued a warning that travel to the area was dangerous.
While the ministry has warned against travel to Crimea, it has not issued the same guidelines for Odessa.
Rabbi Kelly said: “The orphanage asked us not to come — it’s just not safe. Over 10,000 people were protesting one block away from Tikva on the weekend that we were due to go. We just couldn’t do it.”
He said the students were each refunded £400, but the charities’ were facing a loss that would affect their ability to arrange future events.
“We want to rearrange for a safer time, or even get a credit note. Lot said they would consider it, but they haven’t answered our repeated attempts to contact them” said Rabbi Kelly.
The airline did not respond to a request for comment.