Ryanair CEO apologizes over Palestine gaffe

LONDON (Arabnews): The CEO of Irish budget airline Ryanair has issued an apology for an “innocent mistake” after an attendant on a flight to Tel Aviv said the Israeli city was in Palestine.

The announcement, made in English and Italian as the plane began its descent, resulted in several passengers becoming “abusive” despite apologies being issued on board, the airline said.

Israeli media picked up the story, with some figures calling for a boycott of Ryanair over the incident.

Many in Israel believe the use of the name Palestine in place of Israel represents the erasure of the Jewish state.

After passengers on the flight from the Italian city of Bologna on June 10 complained, Eddie Wilson told the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a Jewish human rights group, he had written to the Israeli ambassador in Ireland over the matter, calling Israel “an important partner” for the airline.

Rabbi Abraham Cooper, the center’s associate dean, wrote in a letter to the airline that the organization had received numerous complaints about the incident, adding: “How would Ryanair react if their flight attendant on a flight to Dublin announced multiple times that passengers would soon be arriving in the UK?

“Everyone is entitled to their opinions but not to alternative facts.”

Wilson said he was “100 percent satisfied that this was an innocent mistake with no political overtones or intent,” adding that police had to be summoned after the aircraft landed as a result of the behavior of some passengers.

“We plan to invest in Israel to grow traffic and connectivity both for Israelis traveling to Europe and also to bring much-needed inbound tourism to Israel,” he said.