Recent reports about a Delta Airlines relationship with Saudi Arabian Airlines brought attention to partnerships that are becoming more common in the international airline industry.
B’nai B’rith International President Allan J. Jacobs and Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin wrote to IATA’s leadership that although airlines must adhere to visa requirements of the destination country, “…in this case, discriminatory practices of the Saudi Arabian government that interfere with the administration of visas to travelers with an Israeli passport stamp, or to travelers bearing non-Muslim religious items, are disconcerting.”
The B’nai B’rith letter also noted: “We assert that international travelers of whatever faith, race, or nationality, should not be discriminated against without just reason, and that no IATA member airline should enable the discriminatory visa block as a policy of practice.”
Finally, Jacobs and Mariaschin wrote: “We understand that IATA does not regulate its member airlines, but we call on you to exercise leadership in condemning practices that discriminate against travelers on the basis of religion or past travel. If IATA desires to maintain its long standing code of ethics and integrity, action must be taken on this matter. When airlines discriminate, their actions should be condemned, and all other airlines should be strongly discouraged from facilitating or enabling that discrimination.”
Antony Tyler, general director and CEO of the IATA responded to the concerns over discrimination on member airlines: “Regrettably, many states impose immigration and customs restrictions on international travel and commerce, restrictions that make it more challenging for our industry to fulfill this worthy economic and social role. IATA fights for the removal of these restrictions, using whichever channels we believe provide the greatest promise of success.”
B’nai B’rith will continue to monitor the situation and speak out against potential discrimination based on religion or a person’s travel history.