German flag carrier Lufthansa says it has fully adopted a more encompassing definition of antisemitism as a senior airline executive denounced any kind of antisemitism, discrimination or racism within the Lufthansa Group during a ceremony in Washington DC.
The decision by Lufthansa to adopt the new definition, becoming the first airline in the world to do so, comes just several months after the carrier was accused of booting a group of passengers from a flight because they allegedly ‘looked’ Jewish or had Jewish sounding names.
The incident occurred in May 2022 when Lufthansa employees at its Frankfurt hub barred a group of passengers from boarding a flight to Budapest after landing on a connecting flight from New York JFK.
Some passengers on the first flight had failed to comply with Lufthansa’s strict face mask policy but rather than identifying individuals, the airline allegedly started to pick out anyone who they perceived to be part of the Jewish faith based on their appearance or name.
In one video recorded by one of the passengers, a Lufthansa ground employee allegedly said Jewish people were being barred from travel because “Jewish people who were the mess, who made the problems”.
As many as 170 passengers were removed from the connecting flight, and the situation became so heated that Lufthansa called the police on those who were affected.
Lufthansa’s initial public response to the incident was seen as lacking and it took some time before the airline reiterated that it had “zero tolerance for racism, anti-Semitism and discrimination of any type”.
The new definition of antisemitism that has been adopted by Lufthansa was written by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) and is already the official definition accepted by the German federal government and many other German companies.
“Fundamental to standing against antisemitism is understanding what it is and how it manifests, both in overt forms and through unconscious bias,” Lufthansa Group Executive Board Member Christina Foerster explained.
Lufthansa is now working with the American Jewish Committee to develop corporate sensitivity training sessions. The airline has now, however, detailed what it intends to do to combat antisemitism on the front line.
Founded in 1998 by former Swedish Prime Minister Göran Persson, the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance is an intergovernmental organization that aims to strengthen, advance and promote Holocaust education.
The IHRA definition is as follows: “Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities. In addition, the state of Israel, conceived as a Jewish collectivity, may also be the target of such attacks.”
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 relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.