Saudi airline reportedly refuses to book Israeli passport-holders

July 15, 2013 at 1:06 PM
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NEW YORK, July 15 (UPI) -- A New York mayoral candidate says it appears Saudi Arabian Airlines won't let Israeli passport-holders fly on the airline from U.S. airports.

The airline's website asks for citizenship to book a ticket, but doesn't provide an option for travelers holding an Israeli passport and a phone sting conducted by mayoral hopeful Bill de Blasio confirmed that someone with only an Israeli passport couldn't fly Saudi Arabian Airlines, the New York Post reported Monday.

"No city in the world has closer ties to Israel than we do, and yet Israeli citizens are being discriminated against right here at JFK [New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport]. It's not only illegal; it's an affront to who we are," said de Blasio.

De Blasio, who demanded an end to the practice in a letter to the airline obtained by the Post, said he would pursue the matter on a state and national level "until Israeli nationals' rights are respected."

He said a staffer called the airline, saying he was an Israeli citizen trying to fly from JFK to Mumbai, India, on Saudi Arabian Airlines and that he couldn't find "Israel" as an option on the airline's website.

When he told the ticketing agent he only had an Israeli passport, the agent placed the caller on hold while consulting a supervisor.

When the agent got back on the line, the caller was told, "Since you have Israeli nationality, you will not be allowed to go on Saudi Airlines."

Saudi Arabia Airlines did not return email requests for comment, the Post said.

U.S. law states an air carrier or foreign air carrier cannot discriminate against an air traveler "on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex or ancestry."

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