Europe

Kuwait Airways Paying “Substantial” Penalty to Israeli Woman for Refusing Her Passage

Kuwait Airways has paid a “substantial” settlement to an Israeli woman whom it refused service to, The Times of Israel reported Wednesday.

Last November, Mandy Blumenthal went to the Kuwait Airways counter at Heathrow Airport and attempted to purchase a ticket for a London to Bangkok flight. In a video of the encounter, the airline representative said, “Kuwait Airways does not accept any Israeli passport holders…. It’s a general rule everywhere on Kuwait Airways.”

The refusal of Kuwait Airways to serve Israelis puts it in violation of Britain’s anti-discrimination law, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of nationality.

Blumenthal, a pro-Israel activist, is also a British citizen.

“The law is clear: direct discrimination on grounds of nationality in the provision of a service to the public is illegal,” David Berens, an attorney who represented Blumenthal, said. “Ms. Blumenthal has done a service in showing up Kuwait Airways’ illegal policy. Kuwait Airways is now legally obliged to end this policy or end its services from the UK altogether.”

Kuwait now stands to lose its British routes over the discrimination.

Kuwait has had to cancel its New York to London route in 2015, after it refused an order from the United States government to stop barring Israelis from its flights. It also canceled all intra-European flights over its discriminatory policy, after a 2016 lawsuit in Switzerland.

However, a Germany court ruled last year that it was “not reasonable” to demand that a nation violate its own laws. The ruling is being appealed and if Kuwait loses it, could have to cancel its flights out of Frankfurt.

[Photo: Oliver Holzbauer / Flickr ]