Air Serbia says its flight is headed to 'Palestine'

Israeli passengers refuse to board an Air Serbia flight from Belgrade after it was announced the plane was headed to "Palestine".

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Ben Ariel and JTA,

Air Serbia plane
Air Serbia plane
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Several Israeli passengers recently refused to board an Air Serbia flight from Belgrade to Tel Aviv after it was announced the plane was headed to "Palestine", JTA reported Wednesday.

The incident took place on August 29, the news agency reported, and only when the flight crew at Serbia's Nikola Tesla International Airport in Belgrade corrected the announcement would the passengers board the flight.

But the Air Serbia representative explained to the passengers that "the flight is to Tel Aviv, not to Israel," according to Yedioth Ahronoth.

One Israeli passenger told the ground crew that he would not board the flight until they announced three times that it was landing in Israel, or Tel Aviv. The Tel Aviv announcement was indeed announced three times, and the airline manager at the desk apologized, according to the report.

The passenger issued a complaint to the Israeli Embassy in Serbia.

According to JTA, Air Serbia's CEO expressed shock at the incident and called it completely unacceptable in a conversation with Israel's ambassador to Serbia, Alona Fisher-Kamm.

An investigation later found it was an airport employee, not an Air Serbia employee, who made the announcement.

The incident follows a similar one last October, this time involving Iberia Airlines. Israelis returning home from Madrid on the airline's flight were shocked when the pilot announced that in a few minutes the plane would land in Tel Aviv, in "Palestine."

The startling announcement, delivered in Spanish, was followed by a similar in message in English, albeit without the mention of "Palestine" or of Israel.

The Spanish airline initially apologized for the incident, but later changed its tune and denied it ever occurred.