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DOT: Sell Tickets to Israelis or Stop Operating at U.S. Airports

The DOT has ordered Kuwait Airlines to sell tickets to Israeli travelers or stop operating at U.S. airports.

A U.S. Department of Transportation probe into Kuwait Airlines sales practices resulted in a mandate to the Middle East carrier: Resume selling tickets to Israeli flyers, or leave. After an investigation, the agency sent a letter to the carrier instructing it to follow American anti-discrimination laws while operating at U.S. airports.

The probe was spurred by the case of Eldad Gatt, a citizen of Israel traveling in the U.S. Gatt claims Kuwait Airlines unlawfully denied him a ticket from John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) to London Heathrow Airport (LHR) in 2013.

Furthermore, Gatt also claimed that his citizenship could potentially cost him more in airfare if he were not allowed to fly on Kuwait Airlines, noting that a ticket from JFK to Mumbai would cost $433 aboard Kuwait Airlines and nearly twice as much on Air India.

In its defense, Kuwait Airlines claims it has not violated the law because the carrier is complying with Kuwaiti law that prevents companies from doing business with “entities or persons residing in Israel, or with Israeli citizenship.” Therefore, the airline claims it is exempt from American laws which prevent “unreasonable discrimination.”

“Kuwait Airways respectfully submits that it has not violated the above statute,” attorneys representing the airline wrote in a response filing to the DOT. “All Kuwait Airways passengers are treated equally within the requirements of applicable laws.”

However, the DOT has not accepted the defense and has since concluded the airline has discriminated against Israeli passengers. The DOT has asserted that Kuwait Airlines must submit themselves to American law if they plan on operating in American airports and has given the carrier 15 days to respond to their letter.

“It is our duty to ensure that the transportation system is free of discrimination,” Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx told USA Today in a statement announcing the letter.

[Photo: iStock]

Comments are Closed.
yabadoo October 7, 2015

Anyone who has lived in Kuwait will see first hand how Kuwaiti's discriminate within their own country against other Kuwaiti's (not all Kuwaiti citizens are allowed to vote), other Arabs, and South and South-East Asians in particular. Wanton racism and preferences based on ethnicity is daily affair there that few people even realize it's going on and bat an eyelid. Hence, this ban on Israeli citizens from flying on KU is hardly surprising, it's part of Kuwaiti's DNA to discriminate. Glad the USG took a stand and is forcing their hand.

cestmoi123 October 7, 2015

@lhrsfo "The key is that KU simply needs to ban Israeli citizens, rather than anyone who is Jewish." Would run afoul of the national origin antidiscrimination provisions.

DManzaluni October 7, 2015

Not sure what is going on here, as anyone who has flown on KU and has seen huge numbers of hasids on their flights will know (they are by far the cheapest LHR-JFK). Clearly they aren't discriminating on any religious ground. But it seems from the maintenance comments that they are having problems with maintenance, which is why their metal no longer has any in-flight audio/video. I thought it must be a licensing fee issue with their movies and they wouldn't answer questions when I tried to ask them about this.

BMGRAHAM October 7, 2015

Nice move DOT although as a fellow Jew I think the airline might have been doing him a favor, if that's the way they treat us BEFORE we buy the ticket I can't imagine it would be any better AFTER we buy the ticket.

tomnativenewyorker October 7, 2015

Kuwait airways is actually doing the complainant a favor. After living in Kuwait for three years and working as an aircraft mechanic; I learned the quality of their maintenance leaves a lot to be desired. Another technician who lived there for 12 years and with over 30 years aircraft maintenance stated to me that he 'would rather walk home to Australia than fly KU'. That speaks a lot as well. Sure, someone will say KU never crashed a plane, but that alone isnt enough to sway me to use KU if I needed. For the safety of all ban KU anyway.