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July 15, 2013 5:31 pm

NYC’s De Blasio Threatens to Pull JFK Airport Slot From Saudi Arabian Airlines for Blocking Israelis From Flights

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A Saudi Airbus 320 in 2010. Photo: Wikipedia.

Saudi Arabian Airlines discriminates against Israeli nationals attempting to fly the airline out of New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport, the City’s Public Advocate Bill de Blasio said Monday, citing a probe his office conducted of the airline.

At a press conference in Times Square Monday, De Blasio said that he sent a letter today urging Khalid Abdullah Almolhem, Director General of Saudi Arabian Airlines, to change the policy or else face consequences.

“Saudi Arabian Airlines uses U.S. airports and yet bans Israeli citizens from being able to fly on their airline,” he said. If  the airline does not change their policy, “we will act to make sure they’re excluded from United States airports, starting with JFK,” De Blasio said.

In addition to JFK, Saudi Airlines also flies out of Washington D.C.’s Dulles International Airport.

The issue was originally brought to the attention of De Blasio’s office by passengers who attempted to fly the airline, but were rebuffed. An investigation into the matter by his office confirmed the airline’s prejudice. Attempts to book tickets by a staffer in his office posing as an Israeli national both through the airline’s website and over the phone proved the complaints were founded on truth.

In the case of the airline’s website, a drop down menu does not include Israel, though it was otherwise so comprehensive that even Antarctica appeared as an option, though, as De Blasio pointed out, “in fact, there are no citizens of Antarctica.” The faux Israeli staffer was also rebuffed when calling over the telephone to reserve a seat, being told by a ticket agent he could not fly the airline.

The discriminatory practice violates federal law, which says an “air carrier or foreign air carrier may not subject a person in air transportation to discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex or ancestry,” as well as several New York State laws.

This is the second time Saudi Airlines’ policy towards Israelis has caused a stir. When the airline teamed up with Delta in 2011 the American Jewish community protested the alliance. However, a policy towards Israelis, while rumored to be in place, was never considered official. De Blasio says it is now obvious that it is.

“This is quite official. It’s quite formal now. You can see with your own eyes on their website. And by now making it official they violate our laws,” de Blasio told The Algemeiner. “We need to make sure they are excluded from the American market or they change their policy and act according to our laws.”

De Blasio also told The Algemeiner he believes the Saudis will respond to his overtures.

“The Saudi regime is obviously very sensitive, in terms of its reputation. It is officially a U.S. ally although it often doesn’t act like one. So I believe that if we create some turbulence, it will be felt. I certainly know they don’t want to be excluded from the U.S. market.”

He added that his office had not heard from the Israeli consulate, but “we know, obviously, that this has been an historic problem.”

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  • Avi

    So what will happen if they put Israel on their website? We will end up paying for tickets and being denied boarding at the airport for not being allowed in the country (that is reciprocated).

    A Saudi individual is able to book a ticket on El Al but can’t fly for the exact same reason (officially for ‘not having a transit visa’ which will never be given even if he/she applied)?

    This all seems to me like Saudia actually respecting the time and intelligence of passengers, regardless of their motives behind not putting Israel on the list.

    Both Saudia and El Al are doing the exact same thing, it’s just that one acknowledges it and the other denies it while doing it. I go with Saudia on this one for not wasting my time.

  • Jamie

    Are they still partners with Delta? If so, I will be contacting Delta to let them know NOT to expect my business.

  • Hinda

    Just remember – Saudi Arabia is a true Apartheid Country. The same can now be said of Egypt and Syria. The invented creatures (to use the term by Newt Gingrich) also practice Apartheid.

  • Stuart Hersh

    Why would ANY Israeli, in his right mind, choose to fly Saudi Arabia Airlines? What is De Blasio thinking?

    • COST

    • Efram Paul

      True. I would be afraid of being poisoned.

    • Jamie

      It isn’t about IF someone would actually fly with them, but the fact that they can NOT fly with them even if they wanted to. It is against our US laws, which are against apartheid.

  • SMK

    This might be the siliest article I have ever read. In the US, Saudia only flights routes to and from Saudi Arabia and two US cities, New York and DC. Therefore, the only people that can travel on the airlines are those who can travel to and from Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia does not have diplomatic relations with Israel and therefore does not issue visas to Israeli citizen, in the same way that Israel would not permit Saudi nationals to enter the country. If I, as a Saudi national, booked a flight on El Al to Tel Aviv, I would not be allowed on the flight because I am not permitted to enter Israel.

    A very misleading and stupid article.

    • Ben N

      Many Israelis hold other nations passports in addition to their Israeli passports. What is not clear is whether an Israeli flying on another passport would be prevented from flying on Saudi.

      • Jamie

        We have laws against this kind of discrimination in the US. Has there been an issue with Saudis flying on El Al?

  • Terence Lorens

    Palestinians cannot fly on El Al. So why the hypocrisy. Obviously he’s pandering for Jewish votes. The Saudis have no diplomatic relations with Israel and therefore will not have to entertain any Israeli passport holder per international conventions.

    • Actually, they can. There are no rules to prevent them. But they will have to go through very strict security. Or perhaps you reckon they shouldn’t have to. The real question is why someone like you has to make up yet another myth about Israel. If Palestinians are treated in large numbers at Israeli hospitals, why wouldn’t they be allowed on board El-Al flights? Of course, a lot of Palestinians would love to do that and to bring a bomb on board. But anyone trying that would be arrested, just like any other terrorist boarding most other airlines.

    • Ben N

      Obviously you have never flown El Al, or you would know this to be false.

    • raif

      Terence Lorens’ ignorance has illustrated everything wrong with the world today. He spouts off on a subject without knowing anything about it. Luckily there are more intelligent people here to correct him.

    • Hinda

      Terence you mean the invented creatures right? The followers of that terrorist Yassir Arafat (Egyptian) who took the word Palestinian (that meant any non-Muslim resident of the BRITISH MANDATE OF PALESTINE) to bastardized it for it’s “Cause”. Also, you obviously do not know much about El Al or Israelair. Do you go to the BDSrs meetings along with the neo-Nazis conferences? Just trying to correct your obviously closed mind.

    • Efram Paul

      Palestine is not a nation, and never has been. And if the barbarism continues, never will be.

      • Jamie

        Well said, Efram.

  • Fred

    The USA is complicit in many ways to Arab pressure against Jews. It therefore no surprise discrimination on a subtle scale. USA & the age of correctness with bias.

    • Jamie


  • E Pluribus Beagle

    But he won’t, since De Blasio is just another New York Marxist.

  • Jeff

    Great news about action against the Saudi airline. This deserves success, but this is unlikely in view of the weak leadership at the top of the USA.

  • Kris Kristian

    And Israel is called a racist apartheid state.
    Israel is the only countrty in the entire Middle East where there is no aparheid and racism
    The spread of these lies is from the Arab countries with the help of Tutu.
    Recently the South African ambassador to Israel returned to South Africa, with typical Muslim lies about Israel. Whle he was ambassador there, he never once cpmplained about apartheid and racism.

    Anybody, esp. Christians who want the truth, should contact the International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem

    • shelly leibowitz


  • Galileo

    Saudi Airline is no different than other Arab Airlines,
    and American airlines collaborate with them.
    I have a US passport indicating my city of birth – Tel Aviv. When I presented my passport at the United Airline ticket counter, I was told I cannot fly without a special entry visa to land in Doha, Qatar. It is an ugly practice which the Arabs managed to force upon us.
    It will be hard to reverse.

    • Jamie

      Probably good you didn’t go there, but that still isn’t right.

  • It is about time too, that action was taken against Saudi Airlines and against any other company, of any sort, that took discriminatory activity against Israeli, Jewish, or, in fact, any section of the public who wished to deal with them. Boycotts of this kind cannot be allowed to operate
    in a free society such as ours.

  • Jacqueline

    Wow and they accuse Israel of being apartheid

  • Moshe

    What about Sadi Arabian passport holders, can they fly on ELAL?!

    • Hinda

      I’m sure they can – as long as they do not have any jihadist materials.

  • Jeff Blankfort

    Ithought that De Blasio was running for mayor of New York, not Tel Aviv. Wazzat? They’re one and the same? Didn’t know that. Haven’t been back since the WTC attack.

  • Wm Hausman

    I really don’t get it. Whoever, as a Jew, would want to fly on Saudi Airlines?

  • BlueShadowII

    I can’t help wondering why an Israeli would want to fly on Saudi Arabian Airlines. I would think Israelis would be boycotting SAA instead of trying to buy tickets.

  • Mel

    Do any other airlines in the Muslim world discriminate?

    • Hinda

      One American airline may – DELTA. Since they will start asking (as per a reservationist) what one’s faith is, if one is traveling to the Middle East region. You do know this is against our laws.

  • R

    What Jew in his/her right mind would want to fly a Saudi airline? Why force an issue? Do they go somewhere that no other airline goes? It sure looks as if someone is just looking fr trouble, and want to make a point. If that’s the case, why doesn’t he quietly book a flight on the Saudi airline, then once aboard, put his talith over his head, stand up at his seat, and daven the entire morning/evening service service – ALOUD ?

    I DON’T GO WHERE I KNOW I’M NOT WANTED; especially in a case where I’d be the only Jew on an Arab airplane!!

    • aall55

      This issue concerns Israeli Arabs also ,which could be helpful to them, otherwise as a Jew , how safe is it to board the plane ?

      But just for the principle it is a good thing to enforce the rule.

  • Shirl in Oz

    The point is here

    “Why would an Israeli and/or a Jew, want to fly with Saudi Arabian Airlines anyway?”

  • Carol

    YES! Then after all of the airports in the U.S., kick them out of all the Ivy League universities, too, and all of the Wahabi-supported mosques in the U.S.

    It’s about time the Jewish American community had a group comparable to CAIR. Certainly the ADL doesn’t do it. What a pathetic bunch of cowards, afraid to tell the truth about Islam.

    • Hinda

      ADL does nothing except try to get their name in the papers. Otherwise, our colleges and universities would be Muslim Union-Free and Jews along with Hindus, Bahais and Wiccans would be able to go to our higher institutions without being hassled or threatened as they are being now (UC-SF, Berkeley, UC-Irvine, Rutgers, SUNY-Albany, etc.) ADL would have also stepped in 11 years ago when us Jewish residents of California called on them in regards to an extremely anti-Semitic history book (revisionist) called Across the Centuries was being used upon our children in the 7th grade. Parents – check into what your children ARE being taught in schools – GET INVOLVE!! I spent 20 years fighting the school district where I live against the Islamo-Nazi/”Progressive” teachings that is very apparent. I only wished there were charter schools at the time like there are now.

    • Efram Paul

      Awesome. But, please, do not act like CAIR! Let barbarism remain with the barbarians.

  • Carla Isselmann

    As western companies are bending over backwards to provide halal food and separate screening facilities in order to never ever offend a muslim saoudi-arabian passenger, they, on their turn can bluntly refuse whatever they think right.When do we ever learn…

  • Perry Rubin

    Why oh Why would Israelis Want to fly Saudi Airlines. A death wish!?

  • Then it should loss rights to use New York landing.

  • rofedoc

    Kudos to NYC Public Advocate Bill de Blasio

  • Great, Saudis got caught yet again doing something offensive.

  • rashid Zaidi

    I think it is a very myopic view of the Saudi Airlines. They should as a matter of fact encourage more Jews to travel on their carrier so that both people become less hostile to each other. After all we are human first. The crux of the problem is the Palestinian issue
    once it is settled the barriers will come down for sure.

  • RP

    So much for professionalism. In today’s world, we need leaders like Mr. De Blasio who will expose discriminatory acts like this.

    • Anonymous

      What “Palestinian issue”? It was Saudi Arabia & Egypt who invented the “Palestinian” people as a tool to destroy Israel. Arafat was Egyptian, remember? And the only way to settle the problem is for Israel to send the illegal Arab & Egyptian infiltrators & terrorists back to their own lands or hell. BTW -Weren’t most of the 9/11 terrorists from Saudi Arabia who attacked the WTC & Pentagon? The US has nice friends, or should I say partners in greed for power & oil.

      • I agree with Anonymous of July 16th, 8 a.m.

        The Palestinians should grow up and join the educated, peaceful part of the world so they could have a happy, creative life, and not scare the shoit out of the Jews and the Israelis.

        They should look at their culture and religion and try to make civilized changes like the Jews have. Not all Jews are ultra-Orthodox and they like to think for themselves.

        I guess I am hoping for the impossible.