German Court Rules That Kuwait Airways Can Refuse Transporting Israeli Citizens

Nov 17, 2017

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A German court has ruled that Kuwait Airways can refuse to transport Israeli passengers. The Frankfurt court said that the country’s flagship carrier isn’t required to carry Israeli citizens — given that the country of Kuwait’s laws don’t recognize the state of Israel as a country, the court concluded that it’s not discrimination on the base of race, ethnicity or religion, but rather citizenship.

In August 2016, an Israeli citizen, Adam M., as he’s identified in court papers, had a flight booked with Kuwait Airways from Frankfurt (FRA) to Bangkok (BKK) via Kuwait City (KWI). A few days before his departure, the college student who was living in Germany received notice from the airline that his flight had been canceled after he revealed he had an Israeli passport.

Kuwait Airways offered to book him on a nonstop flight to BKK on another carrier. However, the man refused the offer and filed a lawsuit against the airline on the basis of discrimination. He said that the carrier should have had to accept him as a passenger.

On Thursday, a German court ruled in favor of the airline, saying that it would have faced legal repercussions in its home country if it had allowed the Israeli passenger on board. According to the Associated Press, the court said that it didn’t evaluate whether “this law makes sense,” but the repercussions the airline faced at home were “not reasonable,” such as fines or prison time for employees.

The Central Council of Jews in Germany responded to the court’s ruling by saying: “It is unacceptable that a foreign company operating on the basis of deeply anti-Semitic national laws should be allowed to do business in Germany. We urge the federal government to examine all legal avenues to prevent such cases of discrimination in the future.”

In addition, Uwe Becker, the mayor of Frankfurt, criticized the court’s decision. “An airline that practices discrimination and anti-Semitism by refusing to fly Israeli passenger should not be allowed to take off or land in Frankfurt,” Becker said.

Nathan Gelbart, the passenger’s lawyer said that his client will appeal the verdict.

In 2015, the US government ruled the opposite of its German counterpart, and said that Kuwait Airways had violated American law after a similar situation. As a result, Kuwait dropped its route between New York and London rather than change its policy on accepting Israeli citizens. However, it maintains its route between New York and Kuwait City.

Featured image by Adek Berry / Getty Images.

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