Airline Mulls Israel-Poland Link For Auschwitz School Trips
Low-cost European airline Ryanair is looking at introducing flights between Israel and Poland to cater to Israeli schoolchildren visiting the former Nazi death camp at Auschwitz.
"It seems that every Israeli child has to go to Poland, to go and see Auschwitz. We can help them with that," said the carrier's deputy chief executive, Howard Millar, according to the AFP news agency.
Although Ryanair is based in Dublin, it has expanded across Europe and has in the last 12 months become Poland's number-one airline, according to a results statement published on Monday.
Millar's comments were made at a press conference in London to launch the statement, but only emerged in the media on Tuesday.
A Ryanair spokesman confirmed to AFP that the airline "has had discussions with a number of Israeli airports, but they are purely exploratory at this time".
He rejected the characterization that Ryanair was trying to cash in on Jewish children's visits to Auschwitz, saying Millar was merely remarking on the potential for growth in the Israeli market.
More than one million people, mostly European Jews, were killed between 1940 and 1945 at Auschwitz-Birkenau, the most notorious of the death camps operated by Nazi Germany.
Israeli and Jewish schools and organizations frequently organize trips to see where Jews once lived and flourished in Poland, and then to visit some of the sites of the death camps where they perished in gas chambers.
A visit to Auschwitz-Birkenau,, located near Krakow in southern Poland, with its famous kafkaesque sign at the entrance "Arbet macht frei" (labor results in freedom) is a means of ensuring that the millions of Jews who were brutally murdered at the hands of the Nazis will not be forgotten by Israel's youth.