Al Jazeera has retracted an article which the below story was based on. In a statement, Emirates said it “has never employed any pilot by this name and all reports circulating on social media around this are false”.
A Tunisian expat pilot has been allegedly suspended by an airline in the United Arab Emirates after he refused to fly to Tel Aviv, Israel according to a now-deleted post on Facebook. Monem Sahib al-Taba said his suspension by the airline was a direct result of his refusal to participate in a flight to Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport.
“My activity as a pilot in Emirates Airlines was suspended due to my refusal to participate in a flight to Tel Aviv … God is only who takes care of me … I do not regret it,” al-Taba wrote in the post reported by Al Jazeera.
While al-Taba specifically referenced Emirates, the airline does not currently fly to Tel Aviv and sources claim the airline doesn’t employ any pilots of Tunisian descent. While Emirates has not returned requests for comment, a spokesperson for flydubai said al-Taba does not work for the airline and that the allegations are untrue.
He has since closed his Facebook account claiming airline management put pressure on him to do so. Speaking with Tunisian media, al-Taba said that he will remain suspended pending a disciplinary hearing.
Late last year, Tunisia rejected rumours that it might be the next Arab state to establish formal diplomatic ties with Israel citing the issue of the Palestinian state. A number of Arab countries have built bridges with Israel in the last few months following the surprise move by the United Arab Emirates to lead the way in August 2020.
Formal diplomatic ties were established in August 2020 and airlines in both countries moved quickly to start direct flights. A bilateral air services agreement was reached in October 2020 and flydubai started operating direct flights between the UAE and Tel Aviv in November.
Emirates is not currently operating scheduled passenger services to Tel Aviv but expects to start direct flights in February.
Al-Taba has received widespread support from his fellow countrymen including prominent politicians.
“Many will be rejoiced at the courageous move of the Tunisian captain,” commented Mahdi Abdel-Gawad, a leader in the Long Live Tunisia party
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently used by some of the biggest names in journalism.