Lufthansa has apologised for refusing to let any members of a large group of Orthodox Jewish passengers on to a flight after some of them had refused to wear masks.
The German airline said in a statement that it “regrets the circumstances surrounding the decision to exclude the affected passengers from the flight, for which Lufthansa sincerely apologises”.
The airline said it was reviewing what had happened during the incident on 4 May, involving passengers from New York transiting in Frankfurt for a flight to Budapest.
Some of the passengers had allegedly refused to comply with rules requiring them to wear face masks, whereupon Lufthansa staff allegedly blocked all passengers who were visibly identifiable as Jewish from boarding their connecting flight, German daily Frankfurter Allgemeiner Zeitung reported.
Local German media reported that the staff excluded those passengers who were recognisable as being Jewish because they were wearing skull caps or had sidelocks.
“We regret that the large group was denied boarding rather than limiting it to the non-compliant guests,” the airline said.
“We have zero tolerance for racism, antisemitism and discrimination of any type,” it added.
Uwe Becker, the antisemitism commissioner of the state of Hesse, where Frankfurt is located, sharply condemned the incident.
Becker said that apparently an entire group of people – solely because of their recognisable faith – had been held responsible for something that obviously only affected individual travellers.
“This is discriminatory and not a trivial matter, and all the more reason why the company’s top management should also feel personally responsible for apologising for this incident and taking a clear and unequivocal stand,” Becker told the German news agency dpa.
Becker said he would be happy to have a conversation with Lufthansa on the matter. “Something like this must not be repeated,” he added.