Two Palestinian citizens of Israel were removed from an Aegean Airlines flight on Sunday, after Jewish Israelis claimed they constituted a ‘security’ risk.
The incident was reported on by American newspaper The Jewish Press, citing Israel Radio, and has since been confirmed to Middle East Monitor by an airline spokesperson.
According to the airline, before the flight could depart from Athens to Israel, “an initially small group” of passengers “very vocally and persistently” demanded that two Palestinian citizens be “checked for security issues.”
Aegean Airlines stated that while it was “unfortunate” that the Jewish Israelis were “possibly racially profiling the customers” in question, “because safety must be first, the pilot did feel compelled to delay the flight”, in order to “call the police.”
However, even after the police had arrived, checked the two passengers’ “documents and identities” and found nothing amiss, “a much larger group of passengers” had begun protesting the presence of the two Palestinians, “despite the assurances given by the crew.”
The airline spokesperson said the whole episode only came to an end when the two individuals being singled out by fellow passengers agreed to disembark, and take a different flight the next day.
According to Aegean, the flight was delayed by more than 1.5 hours. The spokesperson added: “We thank again the two Israeli passengers that agreed to disembark for their understanding and collaboration and we apologize for the whole episode which was indeed extremely unfortunate.”
Asked if passengers on Aegean flights can expect to face a similar problem, especially if they Arab, a spokesperson said that the episode “does not reflect the company’s policy.”