New York City Public Advocate Bill de Blasio is ratcheting up pressure on Saudi Arabian Airlines after the airline rejected his office’s demand to alter its policy discriminating against Israeli citizens attempting to fly the airline out of the U.S.
In a letter exclusively revealed to The Algemeiner and sent Wednesday to the heads of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, De Blasio urged them “to take necessary steps to bar Saudi Arabian Airlines from operating at John F. Kennedy International Airport and Washington Dulles International Airport, respectively, if the airline does not immediately end its discrimination against Israeli passengers on the basis of national origin.”
Following a probe of the airline that revealed Saudi Arabian airlines would not allow Israeli citizens to fly out of JFK, De Blasio said he would take steps to exclude it from the American market if it did not change its policy.
In his letter sent Wednesday, De Blasio said that because the airline conducts business in New York and Washington D.C. “it is subject to all relevant local, state and federal laws. Moreover, according to Article 4 of the United States-Saudi Arabia Air Transport agreement signed May 28, 2013, airline permissions may be revoked, suspended or limited if the airline has ‘failed to comply with the laws’ of the United States.”
He further added: “Accordingly, as the principal holders of the leases that authorize SAA to operate out of JFK’s Terminal 1 and Dulles’ Main Terminal, I ask that the Port Authority and MWAA take immediate steps to ensure that all nationalities are able to purchase tickets for flights on Saudi Arabian Airlines and take necessary steps to revoke SAA’s permission to operate at JFK and Dulles if corrective action is not taken by the airline.”
In response to his initial probe, Saudi Arabian Airlines Director General Khalid Abdullah Almolhem said that the state-owned company’s anti-Israeli passenger policy is due to the lack of diplomatic relations between the two countries and would not be modified.
“If there is an absence of political relations between [Saudi Arabia] and any other country, we will not allow that country’s citizens into the kingdom,” Melhem told Saudi’s Al-Watan newspaper, in a report published on Saturday.
A copy of De Blasio’s letter sent on Wednesday is reproduced exclusively by The Algemeiner below.