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German court rules against Israeli passenger in Kuwait Airways case

The airline continues to face an investigation into whether its policy of refusing service to Israeli nationals violates existing air traffic laws

    Over Kuwait City
    Over Kuwait City (Getty)

    The district court in Frankfurt has ruled in favour of Kuwait Airways in a case brought by an Israeli passenger who had his ticket cancelled on the basis of his nationality.

    The claimant had booked a Kuwait Airways ticket via an online travel agency from Frankfurt to Bangkok, which included a layover in Kuwait.

    Shortly before the fight departed, staff at the airline became aware that the passenger was travelling on an Israeli passport, and voided his ticket. They  then offered to re-book him on a different airline.

    “The statement by the court that my client was supposed to accept transportation on other airlines is nothing more than capitulating to antisemitic discrimination by Kuwait Airways,” said Nathan Gelbart, who represented the claimant on behalf of The Lawfare Project.

    Gelbart confirmed they intend to appeal, calling the verdict “shameful for democracy and for Germany in general.”

    The ruling means Kuwait Airways can continue to operate routes from Europe through Kuwait to non-Arab League destinations in south Asia and the Far East.

    However, the airline continues to face investigation by the German Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure into whether its policy of refusing service to Israeli nationals violates existing air traffic laws.

    Frankfurt’s court has granted Kuwait Airways “a free pass for discrimination against Israelis,” Volker Beck, until recently a German Green MP, told the JC in a statement, calling on the Ministry of Transport to intervene.

    Frankfurt mayor Uwe Becker added “An airline that practices discrimination and antisemitism by refusing to fly Israeli passengers should not be allowed to take off or land in Frankfurt, or at any other airport in Germany.”

    As part of the Arab League’s boycott of Israel, it is the longstanding policy of Kuwait’s flag carrier airline to deny service to Israeli passport holders.

    In September 2015, the United States government concluded that policy violated American law, following a complaint by an Israeli citizen who had attempted to travel from New York to London with Kuwait Airways. Rather than alter its policy, in January 2016 the airline ceased flying that route. It ended its intra-European routes last year on the same basis.

    More recently, the Arab Israeli videographer Nuseir Yassin—creator of the Nas Daily series of one-minute videos—was denied boarding in New York by Kuwait Airways.

    Yassin was due to fly to India with a layover in Kuwait. “This is daylight discrimination and it should be illegal,” Yassin said in a video about his experience.

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