With the recent normalization of relations between Israel and both the U.A.E. and Bahrain, new airline flights have become possible. Dubai-based Emirates now even has a kosher kitchen, a result of its desire to fly Israeli passengers through its hub to the rest of the world.
One Emirates pilot, a native of Tunisia, refused to fly to Tel Aviv. He’s been suspended by the airline.
In a post on his Facebook page on Tuesday, al-Taba wrote: “My activity as a pilot in Emirates Airlines was suspended due to my refusal to participate in a flight to Tel Aviv … God is only who takes care of me … I do not regret it.”
…al-Taba said his suspension is pending his appearance before the disciplinary committee. He also closed his Facebook account, he said, after being pressured by Emirates, due to his last post.
Cockpit Of An Emirates Boeing 777
The pilot is being cheered in some political circles, for instance the deputy leader of the Muslim Democratic Party of Tunisia wrote that the pilot’s actions are “a source of honour and pride.”
Other politicians have applauded the pilot, calling it a “courageous move” that “will be rejoiced.”
In the U.S. a Muslim flight attendant was fired for refusing to serve alcohol on board. The union contract wouldn’t allow the airline to require another crewmember to serve the drinks, so no reasonable accommodation was possible.
As home to several Muslim holy sites, it’s clearly not against the pilot’s religion to travel to Israel. His objections are ultimately political.
He’s hardly the only airline crewmember that’s refused a trip, of course. For instance,
- An Air India pilot once refused to fly to a vacation destination unless the airline scheduled his preferred female co-pilot on the trip with him.
- At the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic American Airlines flight crew refused to fly to Milan, and the airline ended up cancelling the flight (as well as service to Milan) as the virus raged across Italy.
In general if your job is to fly a plane where the airline tells you to, you must do so regardless of the destination, passengers (who follow aviation regulations and crewmember instructions) and cargo though at some airlines additional conditions or options may be available. Pilots can ofen trip-trade. However if a pilot isn’t willing to take the assignments offered by Emirates, it’s reasonable that they should no longer be an Emirates pilot.
(HT: Paddle Your Own Kanoo)