Delta defends Saudi alliance, squashes anti-Semitic accusations

  • Staff Reports
  • June 30, 2011
After coming under attack for its alliance with Saudi Arabian Airlines, Delta has gone on the defensive. Speaking out about its nondiscrimination policy, Delta has denied any ties to anti-Semitism and maintains that it doesn’t code-share with Saudi; it only allows Saudi passengers to purchase tickets on multiple airlines.

The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) implored Delta to sever all ties to Saudi Arabian Airlines after an Internet story claiming that Jews will be denied access to Saudi Arabia went viral. Although Saudi Arabian Airlines refutes these allegations, the fact that people flying to Saudi Arabia must receive a visa from the Islamic nation remains undisputed.

Jay Sekulow

Jay Sekulow

Moreover, Saudi Arabian Airlines joined Delta’s SkyTeam alliance in January to much fanfare. At the time, the carrier said that it was honored to partner with Saudi Arabian and increase access to Middle Eastern destinations.

To Jay Sekulow, chief counsel of the ACLJ, it’s relationship that’s toxic. “For Delta to form a business relationship with a country that has a disturbing record of human rights violations is not only problematic, but warrants further scrutiny from the federal government and Congress,” he said in a statement. The ACLJ also implored the Federal Aviation Administration to investigate the matter.

In a statement, the carrier denied any wrongdoing, retorting: “Delta Air Lines does not discriminate, nor do we condone discrimination against any of our customers in regards to age, race, nationality, religion or gender.”

The ACLJ is not convinced, however. “Delta can’t have it both ways,” Sekulow maintained. “If you choose to do business with a government that discriminates on the basis of religion, ethnicity and gender — you simply cannot brush it aside. Delta can do the right thing — and cancel this business relationship, and it should.”

Delta defended its alliance with Saudi Arabian, explaining that its partnership with the carrier is minimal. “Delta’s only agreement with Saudi Arabian Airlines is a standard industry interline agreement, which allows passengers to book tickets on multiple carriers, similar to the standard interline agreements American Airlines, US Airways and Alaska Airlines have with Saudi Arabian Airlines,” Delta said in a statement.

What’s more, the carrier said, it’s not alone in its dealings with the Islamic nation.  “All of the three global airline alliances — Star, which includes United Airlines; oneworld, which includes American Airlines, and SkyTeam, which includes Delta — have members that fly to Saudi Arabia and are subject to that country’s rules governing entry,” it explained.

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