MIAMI —The United States Department of Transportation sent a letter to Kuwait Airways, notifying about an unlawful discrimination against a Israeli passenger traveling from John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) to London Heathrow Airport (LHR).
The letter stated that Eldad Gatt, an Israeli citizen, filed a complain to the Department of Transportation in 2013, after finding that the airline’s online booking system does not allow the selection of Israel as his passport-issuing country. This was confirmed today, two years after the event, when trying to purchase a ticket in the New York – London service offered by the carrier:
“We considered Mr. Gatt’s claim upon an alternative ground (…) which holds that an ‘air carrier or foreign air carrier may not subject a person, place, port, or type of traffic in foreign air transportation to unreasonable discrimination” Blane Workie, DOT’s assistant general counsel for enforcement said in a letter to Kuwait Airways.
“It is our duty to ensure that the transportation system is free of discrimination. Period. I know how important protections against discrimination are, and our Department will stand firmly against it. Today, we are saying “no” to discrimination against Israeli citizens on flights between the U.S. and the U.K.,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “Any airline that wishes to operate in the U.S. should know that we will not tolerate discrimination of any kind in our skies,” Foxx stated.
According to the DOT, Kuwait Airways responded that its booking system does not allow the selection of Israel as passport-issuing country because of a Kuwaiti law which states, in part, that “…every natural or legal [Kuwaiti] is prohibited to enter into an agreement, personally or indirectly, with entities or persons residing in Israel, or with Israeli citizenship.”
The department has given the airline 15 days to respond. A range of enforcement actions are possible, beginning with civil penalties. Kuwait Airways could not be reached for comment.