THE CEO of Irish airline Ryanair has apologised after a flight attendant on a plane to Tel Aviv announced the aircraft was set to land in Palestine.
In a letter to the Simon Wiesenthal Center (SWC), Eddie Wilson described the incident as ‘an innocent mistake with no political overtones’.
However, Rabbi Abraham Cooper, Associate Dean and Global Social Action Director at the SWC, compared it to a flight attendant announcing a Dublin-bound flight was landing in Britain.
According to a letter from Rabbi Cooper, the SWC — an international Jewish human rights organisation — received numerous complaints relating to Ryanair flight FR 3794 from Bologna in Italy to Tel Aviv on June 10.
It stated that a flight attendant ‘repeatedly announced’ in Italian and English that the plane would be landing in Palestine.
Rabbi Cooper added that passengers asked for the ‘inappropriate comments’ to be corrected but were reportedly refused.
He urged the airline to ‘issue an apology to the airline passengers insulted by a false narrative’.
In a response from Mr Wilson, published on the SWC website, he apologised for the ‘inappropriate and unacceptable PA’ but added that ‘there was no intention to cause offence’.
He said the ‘extremely apologetic’ crew member involved had been issued a warning but added that it was an ‘innocent mistake’.
He also claimed the flight attendant had issued an apology and correction at the time but passengers became abusive, leading police to be called.
Passengers abusive towards crew
“From speaking to the managers and reviewing the crew reports we are 100 per cent satisfied that this was an innocent mistake with no political overtones or intent,” wrote Mr Wilson.
“Several passengers did complain onboard and when the crew realised what had been announced, the crew member made a second PA apologising and correcting this error.
“A small number of passengers, despite this PA apology, continued to be abusive towards the crew and the police were called to meet the aircraft on landing at Tel Aviv.”
He added: “Many thanks for your letter and apologise for this inappropriate and unacceptable PA and can assure you that there was no intention to cause offence.
“This was an innocent mistake, and the crew member apologised on the PA when they realised what had happened.
“We can assure you that the crew member who made the announcement was extremely apologetic and has assured us that this mistake will never be repeated.”
Mr Wilson added that he had also written to the Israeli ambassador in Ireland about the incident.
Rabbi Cooper welcomed the apology but said that while everyone was entitled to their opinion, it was ‘alternative facts’ to claim Tel Aviv is in Palestine.
“How would Ryanair react if their flight attendant on a flight to Dublin announced multiple times that passengers would soon be arriving in the United Kingdom?” he said.