Kuwait Airways must change its booking practices after it illegally discriminated against an Israeli by refusing to let him book a flight from New York to London, the U.S. Department of Transportation ruled Wednesday.
The Associated Press reported:
Eldad Gatt, an Israeli citizen, complained to the Department of Transportation that in 2013 he was unable to buy a ticket from John F. Kennedy Airport to London Heathrow Airport through Kuwait Airways because the airline’s online booking system prevented him from selecting Israel as his passport-issuing country. …
“We considered Mr. Gatt’s claim upon an alternative ground … which holds that an `air carrier or foreign air carrier may not subject a person, place, port, or type of traffic in foreign air transportation to unreasonable discrimination,'” Blane Workie, DOT’s assistant general counsel for enforcement said in a letter to the airline.
By refusing to transport Israeli citizens to and from the U.S. and a third country that accepts Israeli citizens, in this case the United Kingdom, the airline is in violation of the law, the letter said. “We expect (Kuwait Airways) to sell tickets to and transport Israeli citizens between the U.S. and any third country where they are allowed to disembark based on the laws of that country,” Workie said.
It is against Kuwaiti law to do business with any Israeli “citizen or company,” with imprisonment as a possible punishment.
Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said that the case serves as a warning that “any airline that wishes to operate in the U.S. should know that we will not tolerate discrimination of any kind in our skies.” The airline, which has fifteen days to respond to the ruling, is subject to “a range enforcement actions are possible, beginning with civil penalties.”
The AP reported that the Department of Transportation is aware of another complaint similar to Gatt’s. Saudi Arabian Airlines has also been threatened with losing its landing rights at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City for a similar violation of American anti-discrimination laws.
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