Iberia denies pilot said 'welcome to Palestine'
Passengers on an Iberia flight from Madrid to Tel Aviv on Wednesday reported that the pilot welcomed them to 'Palestine
' on landing.
During the flight from Madrid by Spain’s
national carrier, the pilot announced in Spanish that he was preparing
to land “in Tel Aviv, in Palestine.” In English, he subsequently said he
was preparing to land “in Tel Aviv,” and did not repeat the “Palestine”
comment; neither did he say “Israel.”
Lior, a passenger on the flight, told Channel 2 news that he was “a little bit shocked.”
“I don’t understand why he said this,” said
Lior. “We live in the State of Israel and he should have said ‘Israel.’
There was a reason he didn’t say it in English. It was deliberate.”
Another passenger said “everyone noticed” that the pilot didn’t mention Israel by name.
One of the passengers sent a letter to the
company complaining about the pilot’s conduct, saying he and his family
“were very offended,” and adding, “It is inappropriate and does serve
your company well,” Channel 2 reported.
The Spanish news website 20 Minutos reported
on Thursday morning that the Israeli ambassador in Madrid penned a
“tough letter” to the president of Iberia in which he asked him to take
disciplinary measures against the pilot.
Yedioth Ahronoth reported that an Iberia
spokeswoman in Israel apologized on behalf of the airline and said the
pilot who made the announcement would not be flying the route to Israel
until the matter was fully investigated by the airline.
Iberia is now denying
that the pilot said 'Palestine.'
After speaking with “members of both cockpit and cabin crews and with
other passengers on board” to clarify the situation, Iberia has
determined “the word ‘Palestine’ was not used in the announcement,”
according to a statement posted on the airline’s website.
“The captain adhered to the standard format, in which only the
airports of origin and destination are named, and not countries,
regions, or territories,” Iberia said.
The announcement was first made in Spanish and then in English. The
airline claims the captain said, “Dear passengers, we’re now descending
to land at our destination, Tel Aviv.”
However, passengers may have been confused, according to Iberia.
“Both the airline and the crew regret the misunderstanding, which
could have been caused by the similar sound of the Spanish word
‘destino,’ meaning ‘destination’, with ‘Palestina.’ No such confusion
was caused by the message in English, passengers said.”
If he had said 'Israel' or 'Palestine,' it would have been a breach of protocol. I fly a lot, and I don't recall ever hearing an airline pilot announce the name of the country in whose airport we were landing.
Labels: Ben Gurion Airport, Israel, Palestine, Spain, Tel Aviv