Feds accuse Kuwait Airways of ethnic discrimination

Feds accuse Kuwait Airways of ethnic discrimination
© Kuwait Airlines

The Department of Transportation (DOT) is accusing Kuwait Airways Corporation (KAC) of discriminating against an Israeli passenger.

The airline allegedly refused to sell a ticket to Eldad Gatt for a flight from New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport to London's Heathrow Airport (LHR) because of his ethnicity, according to the agency. 

"After a thorough review of the information provided by the parties, we find that KAC unreasonably discriminated against Mr. Gatt in violation of [federal law] by refusing to sell him a ticket on its flight from JFK to LHR," DOT Assistant General Counsel for Aviation Enforcement and Proceedings Blane Workie wrote in a letter to Kuwait Air attorney Evelyn Sahr. 

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"Our conclusion that KAC unreasonably discriminated against Mr. Gatt is based on the history and intent of [federal] case law, and the permit authority granted to KAC to engage in scheduled foreign air transportation," Workie continued.

The airline had argued that it was allowed to reject Israeli passport holders under Kuwaiti law. 

Transportation Secretary Anthony FoxxAnthony Renard FoxxGeorgia Power says electricity at Atlanta airport will likely be restored by midnight Ex-Obama transportation chief on Atlanta airport power outage: 'Total and abject failure' To address America's crumbling infrastructure, follow Britain's lead MORE said the prohibition does not extend to passengers who are flying from the U.S. to the United Kingdom, however. 

“It is our duty to ensure that the transportation system is free of discrimination. Period.  I know how important protections against discriminations 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.,” Foxx said in a statement.  

"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 continued.

Kuwait Air will have 15 days to respond to the transportation department's accusations.