After Barring 127 Orthodox Jews from Flight, Lufthansa Moves to Combat Anti-Semitism
Germany’s flagship airline will also adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of antisemitism and create new staff training.
By: David Hellerman
Lufthansa, Germany’s national airline, is creating a position in senior management to prevent incidents of antisemitism and discrimination after an incident concerning a large number of Jewish passengers who were barred from boarding a flight in May, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency reported.
The airline stoked outrage after 127 Orthodox Jews traveling in separate groups were collectively prevented from boarding a connecting flight in Frankfurt due to a dispute over masking regulations on the first leg of the journey from New York.
The passengers were not allowed to board their connecting flight to Budapest as a result of the reported refusal of some to wear masks on the plane from New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport.
Most of the Jewish passengers said they had cooperated with Lufthansa’s masking requirements and were being punished for the actions of other Jews who they were not even travelling with.
According to the JTA, Lufthansa CEO Jen Ritter promised to establish a senior management role “for the prevention of discrimination and antisemitism,” creating new staff training around issues of antisemitism and adopting the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of antisemitism.
“Lufthansa deeply regrets the denied boarding and the impact it had on our passengers,” Ritter stated.
In one video taken by a passenger, a Lufthansa agent at the departure gate in Frankfurt admitted that Jews had been banned from the flight to the Hungarian capital. When the passenger expressed his shock, the agent responded: “If you want to do it like this, Jewish people who were the mess, who made the problems.”
Other videos posted to social media by the distressed passengers included disturbing scenes of armed German police officers angrily confronting Jewish travelers after one of their number was called a “Nazi” — a criminal offense under German law.
Meanwhile, Ambassador Deborah Lipstadt, the special U.S. envoy to monitor and combat antisemitism, is scheduled to discuss the incident with senior Lufthansa officials.
In other Lufthansa related news, the AP reported that more than 1,000 Lufthansa flights were canceled last Wednesday because of a one-day strike by the airline’s German ground staff, affecting tens of thousands of passengers in the latest travel turmoil to hit Europe.
About 134,000 passengers had to change their travel plans or cancel them altogether. At least 47 connections were canceled Tuesday, German news agency dpa reported.
The AP reported that Lufthansa’s main hubs in Frankfurt and Munich were most affected, but flights were also canceled in Duesseldorf, Hamburg, Berlin, Bremen, Hannover, Stuttgart and Cologne.
The airline advised affected passengers not to go to airports because most service counters would be unstaffed. Airport terminals were unusually empty during the early morning hours, but people lined up at ticket counters later trying to find replacements for their canceled flights, dpa reported.
Many of the stranded passengers had arrived in Germany from abroad to find out that their connecting flights were grounded due to the walkout, as was reported by the AP.
At Frankfurt airport, 725 of 1,160 scheduled flights were canceled for the day, according to a spokesperson for airport operator Fraport. Flights operated by other airlines, which are usually supported by Lufthansa ground staff, were also affected, dpa reported. (WorldIsraelNews.com & AP)