A passenger aboard a flight of Chinese Hainan Airlines from Beijing to Israel was shocked to notice that the airline was sending him to the “Palestinian Territories” instead of Israel, the European Jewish Press (EJP) reported on Thursday.
According to the report, the passenger wrote on Facebook that he described during the flight that Israel was not featured on the in-flight navigation map and that instead, “Palestinian Territories” was listed.
“I wanted to see how the plane was progressing toward its destination and thus took a look at the in-flight navigation map. I was surprised when I saw that the plane’s destination on the screen was listed as the ‘Palestinian Territories’ and not Israel,” wrote the passenger, according to EJP.
The passenger attached a photograph of the screen, which displayed Syria, Cyprus and Lebanon but only Tel Aviv and Jerusalem without Israel’s name.
In response, Hainan Airlines said, “We thank you for contacting us and turning our attention to this regrettable technical mistake. The airline is working to fix the maps as soon as possible along with the external software supplier.
“We would like to mention that the word ‘Israel’ clearly appears on the maps in the zoomed-in view. We will continue to promote Israel as a tourist destination in China just as we have always done with a lot of pride,” added the airline’s statement.
Hainan Airlines started flights to Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport half a year ago. The airline currently operates three Tel Aviv-Beijing flights per week which will soon be increased to four. The airline is also considering introducing other flights from Israel in the future, according to EJP.
The incident marks the third time in the last few months that an airline has said it is sending its passengers to “Palestine” while ignoring Israel.
In late August, several Israeli passengers refused to board an Air Serbia flight from Belgrade to Tel Aviv after it was announced the plane was headed to "Palestine", while an Air Serbia representative explained to the passengers that "the flight is to Tel Aviv, not to Israel.”
Air Serbia's CEO later expressed shock at the incident and called it completely unacceptable in a conversation with Israel's ambassador to Serbia, Alona Fisher-Kamm.
Last October, Israelis returning home from Madrid on an Iberia Airlines 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.