Die Presse, May 22, 2018
Hardly any airline creates as much outrage as Kuwait Airways, because it does not transport any Israelis because of hatred for Jews. „Die Presse“ received exclusive information that the airline will soon fly to Vienna
Vienna. In Germany, the government intervened. Minister for Transport Andreas Scheuer (CSU) threatened Kuwait Airways, who refuses to transport Israeli citizens due to hatred for Jews, with consequences. A refusal of transport based on nationality or religion is unacceptable, the minister said. „Such a discrimination contradicts our Grundgesetz (the German constitution), Scheuer said recently. Die Presse has learned exclusively that come June, Kuwait Airways will not only fly to Frankfurt, but also to Vienna. Munich, too, is on the list. All details can be found in this article.
Staring June 7, the airline will offer direct flights between Vienna and the international airport in Kuwait three times a week. Flight time will be over five hours. The flights can already be booked on Kuwait Airways’ website and via several online travel agencies. The Kuwait Airways website also offers direct flights between Munich and Kuwait as of June.
The expansion of flight service into Europe is a surprise. Because in Germany and other countries, the airline has recently caused a storm of protest. A citizen of Israel living Germany booked a flight on Kuwait Airways from Frankfurt to Bangkok on the Internet. There was a planned stop-over in Kuwait. But the airline refused to transport the passenger. Because in Kuwait exists a law that prohibits business with Israeli citizens.
The Central Council of Jews in Germany reacted indignantly. It is „intolerable“ if a foreign business may operate in Germany based on „deeply anti-Semitic“ laws. The Kuwaiti boycott law reminds one of the worst times of the persecution of Jews during National Socialism, the Council emphasized. „According to this, attacks on the state of Israel, which in the process is interpreted as a Jewish collective, also fall under this definition,“ it said.
Over the past months, many leading politicians demanded a start- and landing ban for Kuwait Airways in Germany. Other Arab airlines also flying to Vienna, like Emirates, do transport Israelis.
Court Decided in Favor of Kuwait
In Germany the case ended up in court. The Israeli citizen who wanted to fly with Kuwait Airways sued for discrimination. But the state court in Frankfurt rejected his claim at the end of 2017. According to the judge’s opinion, a foreign airline cannot be burdened with breaking the laws of its country of origin.
The plaintiff’s attorney was appalled by the fact that a German judge favored the rules of an „autocratic principality over German law.“ Mathias Döpfner, head of German Axel Springer publishers, called the verdict a „self-abandonment of our liberal values.“ One should imagine the outrage if a German court allowed a Western airline to not transport Turkish citizens, he said.
The Kuwaitis have been causing headlines in other countries, too. In the United States, an Israeli citizen, who booked a flight from London to New York was rejected. However, U.S. authorities insisted that the Kuwaitis had to transport Israeli citizens. As a result, Kuwait Airways cancelled its lucrative direct flight from London to New York.
Will There Also be an Outcry in Austria?
It is exciting to see what will happen in Austria: will there also be a public outcry like in Germany and other countries? How will Austrian courts decide if an Israeli citizen living in Austria is rejected by Kuwait Airways? The Vienna airport can’t do a thing in this case. „The Vienna Airport cannot forbid an airline to land in Vienna if it fulfills the legal and technical regulations. We are bound by obligation to contract," Peter Kleemann, spokesperson of Vienna Airport, told Die Presse.
In Germany, the Ministry for Transport so far has not issued a landing ban for Kuwait Airways, which might be connected to business ties with Kuwait. By all accounts, Kuwait Airlines will be flying to Vienna until September. Because Arab tourists love visiting Austria during summer.