Imagine the protests in the streets if Delta Airlines were to tell Muslims that they could not fly somewhere because the local customs would not permit them to enter that country? And just how quickly would Rev. Al Sharpton be able to gather thousands to march against Delta Airlines if they would not allow black people onto their planes because the country where they were flying would not permit people of color to enter?
Those situations are impossible to conceive because they could never happen, right?
But Delta Airlines is facing a similar moral dilemma as they get are about to complete an alliance with Saudi Arabia. The Delta-Saudi deal means adding Saudi Arabian Airlines (SAA) to Delta's SkyTeam Alliance. For the first time, this would allow Delta passengers to fly direct into Saudi Arabia, as long as passengers are not Jewish, do not have a passport from Israel or a passport that is stamped from Israel.
This issue was addressed back in April when attorney Jeffrey Lovitky sent the following letter to Delta;
Two weeks later, Mr. Lovitky received a response from Delta, and not from CEO Richard Anderson. Lovitky's letter was referred to 'Customer Care.'
The answer was quite clear. Delta did not see Saudi Arabia's discrimination against Jews to be their problem. And yet, Mr. Lovitky presisted with his questions until he received this letter;
As far as Delta was concerned this was a dead issue. Dead until it was brought to the attention of former Congressman, Fred Grandy. Mr. Grandy was visiting some old friends on Capitol Hill earlier this week when these letters were handed to him. Fred and his wife are regular guests on the Jeff Katz morning show on Talk 1200 in Boston, and this past Wednesday they discussed the potential problems that might stem from Delta's business alliance with Saudi Arabian Airlines.
In a telephone interview with The Blaze today, Mr. Grandy explained his concerns for what he and his wife called 'Creeping Sharia Law.' He also explained that he saw no difference between the restrictions imposed by the Saudi government on Jews and women and those limitations imposed by the apartheid rules of the South African government. During Grandy's time in the House of Representatives, America would not permit airlines from South Africa to land in our country as long as that country had laws discriminating against people of color.
The story seemed to be gaining traction in the blogosphere today and not long ago, Delta Airlines Senior Manager of Corporate Communications, Trebor Banstetter posted the following on a company blog site;
We've gotten questions today from you, our concerned customers, following an article about Saudi Arabian Airlines joining SkyTeam (the global airline alliance that includes Delta as a member). After listening to many of your thoughts today, we'd like to take this opportunity to share some information and help to clarify some of the questions we know you have.
First and foremost, I think one of the most important things to mention here is that Delta does not discriminate nor do we condone discrimination against anyone in regards to age, race, nationality, religion, or gender.
That said, some have raised questions about whether Saudi Arabian Airlines' membership in SkyTeam means Delta is adopting any type of policies that could present barriers to travel for some passengers, including Jewish customers. For this particular concern, it's important to realize that visa requirements to enter any country are dictated by that nation's government, not the airlines, and they apply to anyone entering the country regardless of whether it's by plane, bus or train.
We, like all international airlines, are required to comply with all applicable laws governing entry into every country we serve. You as passengers are responsible for obtaining the necessary travel documents, such as visas and certification of required vaccinations, and we're responsible for making sure that you have the proper documentation before you board.
As it was stated in the very first letter sent from attorney Lovitky to the airline, Delta entered into this relationship with Saudi Arabia and SAA of its own free will. Nobody has forced the company to do business with a country that would restrict entry or movement within that country based on religion or gender. This is all Delta's choice.
Lovitky has taken his case higher up the food chain and is petitioning Delta's Board of Directors. The following note was sent to Roger Slater, a Delta board member and an attorney at the DC firm of Patton Boggs;
The Blaze will have updates to this story as they are made available.