A court in Frankfurt has ruled that Kuwait Airways may bar Israeli citizens from boarding its planes in Germany.
The Frankfurt District Court ruled in favour of the state-backed airline in a case brought by Israeli passenger who was last year barred from flying from Frankfurt to Bangkok because of his nationality.
Kuwait bans all its citizens and companies from doing any business with Israel or Israelis and the airline enforces the policy strictly, banning Israelis from its flights. It appears to have won the court case in Germany because it offers to pay for Israelis to fly on another airline.
Frankfurt’s mayor Uwe Becker had earlier said any airline with discriminatory practices “should not be allowed to takeoff or land in Frankfurt, or at any other airport in Germany,” adding that this Kuwaiti law was “deeply anti-Semitic”.
The Gulf kingdom, which has no diplomatic relations with Israel, has long sought to defend its policies. In 2016, the airline ended flights between European cities following lawsuits filed against it in Switzerland on behalf of an Israeli who was denied a ticket, while in 2015 it dropped its route from New York to London after the U.S. Department of Transportation ordered it to stop discriminating against Israelis.
German Transport Minister Alexander Dobrindt called for a German investigation, asking whether the airline’s actions violated German air traffic laws.
The airline went viral when Nas Daily, an Israeli-Arab social media star, posted a video on Facebook of him being banned from boarding the plane from New York to India. The video got 700,000 views, with German Green Party politician Volker Beck saying: “Stop the discrimination or stop doing business in Germany.”
The cancellation came a few days before his scheduled departure in August 2016 when the passenger, referred to by the court as ‘M’, revealed he had an Israeli passport. The airline offered to book him on a nonstop flight to Bangkok with another carrier.
He 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 spokesman for the U.S-based Lawfare Project, which represented the Israeli passenger, said they were “deeply shocked” by the court’s decision, adding: “It allows a totalitarian regime’s discriminatory legislation to overrule both German law and Germany’s democratic values… This is a shameful verdict for democracy and for Germany in general. This verdict cannot stand. We will definitely be appealing.”
The Frankfurt state court noted in its decision that Kuwait Airways is not allowed to have 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.
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.”
Updated: 17-11-17. 10:52