German court: KAC can refuse Israeli passengers

BERLIN: A German court ruled yesterday that Kuwait’s national airline didn’t have to transport an Israeli citizen because the carrier would face legal repercussions at home if it did. The Frankfurt state court noted in its decision that Kuwait Airways is not allowed to close contracts with Israelis under Kuwaiti law because of the Middle Eastern country’s boycott of Israel. The court said it didn’t evaluate whether “this law make sense”, but that the airline risked repercussions that were “not reasonable” for violating it, such as fines or prison time for employees.

An Israeli citizen sued the airline after he booked a flight from Frankfurt to Bangkok with a stopover in Kuwait City. Kuwait Airways canceled his booking when he revealed he had an Israeli passport and offered to book him on another airline. The man refused the offer and filed the lawsuit, seeking compensation for alleged discrimination. He also insisted the airline should have to accept him as a passenger.

The court rejected his discrimination claim ruling that German law covers discrimination based on race, ethnicity or religion, but not nationality. A lawyer for the Israeli passenger, whose name was not given, called the verdict “deeply shocking”. “This is an embarrassing ruling for democracy and for Germany,” lawyer Nathan Gelbart said. “It cannot be allowed to stand like this.”

Germany’s Central Council of Jews condemned the ruling, calling it “unbearable that a foreign company operating based on deeply anti-Semitic national laws is allowed to be active in Germany”. Frankfurt Mayor Uwe Becker expressed a similar view. “An airline that practices discrimination and anti-Semitism by refusing to fly Israeli passengers should not be allowed to takeoff or land in Frankfurt,” Becker said. Courts in the United States and Switzerland previously have ruled in favor of plaintiffs in comparable cases, the German news agency dpa reported. – AP

This article was published on 16/11/2017