The British airline, BMI, has removed Israel from the electronic maps displayed to passengers in some of its planes, Army Radio reports. The report claimed that the reason was to avoid offending Muslim passengers. However, the maps showed passengers the direction of Mecca.
Israel does not appear in maps on BMI flights between London and Tel Aviv, and Khefa, the pre-independence Arabic name for Haifa, appears on the maps.
In addition, the electronic maps display the distance between the plane and Mecca. The airline claims that the map has not been changed due to a “logistical problem.” Instead, it has presently been removed from the two planes that transport passengers to Tel Aviv.
“For this reason, the inflight entertainment system in the two planes was made to adapt to the passengers flying to and from those destinations and therefore the map showed mainly places holy to Islam,” the airline company said in a statement.
BMI denied that it had a political agenda. “If BMI had any political agenda in order not to anger neighboring countries, it would not have invested so much in the Tel Aviv line,” the company stated.
“This is a fault. The electronic map will be removed from the airline’s two planes that operate the route to Tel Aviv,” BMI stated. “We make every effort to take passengers’ sensitivities into account through an apolitical policy.”
The airline has flights to Syria, Lebanon, and even Iran, whose President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has vowed “to wipe Israel off the map.” BMI has recently received an agreement with Israel’s Ministry of Tourism for expanding its flight operations to Israel.
Transport Minister director-general Gideon Sitterman told Army Radio, “Doing business with Israel has its advantages and disadvantages, but we will not agree to a situation where they hide the existence of Israel but want to do business with Israel.”
When in Saudi Arabia, Do What the Saudis Do…
BMI is apparently bending over backwards to accommodate the sensitivities of its Saudi passengers. The British weekly Sunday Times reported last week that a stewardess was fired because she refused to don an abaya head covering and to walk behind male flight attendants on a flight bound for Saudi Arabia, regardless of rank.
The BMI internal document issued to crewmembers bound for Saudi Arabia stated: “It is expected that female crew members will walk behind their male counterparts in public areas such as airports no matter what rank.”
The flight attendant, Lisa Ashton, refused to abide by BMI’s policy, and was fired when she refused to travel to Saudi Arabia if she would be required to don an abaya.