Lufthansa CEO Apologizes to Berlin Rabbi

By Matis Glenn

Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr apologized to a rabbi in Berlin Wednesday, after the airline banned over 100 Jewish passengers from a connecting flight last week, when some passengers aboard the plane refused to wear masks on the first flight.

The CEO met with Rabbi Yehudah Teichtal over video conference to discuss the incident. After speaking with crew members and witnesses, Spohr said that they “certainly apologize for the incident” and that “this is not at all in line with our rules for communication and behavior”.

Following the incident last week, Lufthansa statements had initially said that a large number of passengers were banned after they failed to comply with mask mandates, and denied that there was any antisemitism involved, despite numerous passengers attested to a wholesale barring of all visibly Jewish passengers from entering their connecting flight. However, this week amid a firestorm of media coverage and a video released by Dan’s Deals, that showed a Lufthansa agent explicitly saying that “Everybody has to pay for a couple,” and that “Jewish people who were the mess, who made the problems,” Lufthansa issued a statement Tuesday apologizing for the incident and admitting that not all passengers who were banned had actually violated the mask policy.

Spohr’s apology to Rabbi Teichtal disavowed antisemitism, but did not say that the airline had engaged in it. “Antisemitism has no place at Lufthansa. The actions last Wednesday should not have happened like this and must now be fully clarified.”

Rabbi Teichtal was not quick to lump the entire company together as antisemitic. “If an employee in Lufthansa uniform acts wrongly, concerns and accusations of antisemitism are quite legitimate,” he said. “More sensitivity may be expected from a German corporation.” Rabbi Teichtal said that it’s important for the company to have a joint awareness training, to educate staff on antisemitism and discrimination. 

Following the meeting, Rabbi Teichtal said, “I am pleased that the CEO of Lufthansa reacted so quickly, took a clear position and apologized.”

Passengers who were banned from the flight are planning to file a lawsuit against Lufthansa.

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