Kuwait Airways will pay damages to Israeli passenger it refused a ticket in London

Aug 10, 2018

A Kuwait Airways airplane approaching Heathrow Airport in London, England. (Wikimedia Commons)

(JTA) — Kuwait Airways agreed to pay damages plus legal costs to an Israeli who was refused a ticket on a flight from London to Bangkok on the grounds of her nationality.

Mandy Blumenthal, with the help of UK Lawyers for Israel, had claimed damages against the airline for racial discrimination and harassment after she tried to buy a return ticket to the Thai capital at Heathrow Airport in November.

Blumenthal’s encounter at the Kuwait Airways desk was filmed and the video is available on YouTube. It shows that Kuwait Airways was prepared to sell her the ticket but refused once it saw the Israeli passport. The ticket clerk repeatedly explained that “Israeli passport holders are not permitted to travel on Kuwait Airways.”

The airline has agreed to pay Blumenthal damages but without admitting liability, UK Lawyers for Israel said. The report did not say how much the airline was willing to pay.

“The law is clear: Direct discrimination on grounds of nationality in the provision of a service to the public is illegal,” said David Berens, one of Blumenthal’s attorneys. “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.”

Berens was joined by John Bowers and Benjamin Gray in representing Blumenthal. UK Lawyers for Israel organized her legal representation, the Jewish News of London reported Tuesday.

“It is horrible to be singled out, to be told you are not allowed to do something because of who you are,” Blumenthal said. “In my mind it is an anti-Semitic policy to single out the only Jewish state to boycott.”

In 2016, Kuwait Airways ended its New York to London service over its refusal to carry Israeli passengers, which prompted the U.S. Department of Transportation to issue the firm an ultimatum.

The airline has also been taken to court in Germany for refusing to fly Israelis, but a court in Frankfurt ruled the practice was legal.

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