British Airways has issued an apology after it pulled the plug on showing a sitcom on its inflight entertainment system because it featured Jewish characters.
Within 24 hours of becoming engulfed in the ensuing antisemitic storm, however, a spokesperson said BA had now reversed its decision and would show the sitcom early next year.
British Airways reached a £20,000 deal to show the satirical comedy series Hapless in August, and the first season was due to air on BA’s planes in December. That deal, however, was put on ice just days after Hamas launched a terror attack on Israel on October 7.
The writer and director of Hapless, Gary Sinyor, was told by the international licensing agency Spafax which struck the deal with BA that the airline didn’t want to be seen to be “taking sides” in the ongoing conflict in Gaza.
Hapless follows the life of a journalist at a local Jewish newspaper in London but does not touch on any Israeli or Palestinian issues.
Explaining its decision, British Airways said it wanted to “remain as neutral as possible” and initially rejected Sinyor’s objections to its decision to temporarily pause the deal.
With BA “reluctant to get back to normal programming”, Sinyor decided to go to the media and shared his story with the Telegraph. Again, BA stood by its decision until it faced a public backlash.
“We understand that the decision to review the content has caused upset and hurt to the Jewish community, and we’re sorry – that was never our intention,” a spokesperson for the airline admitted.
“We’re proud to offer a wide range of entertainment options for our customers to enjoy and constantly review these, taking into consideration current events. The series will appear on our aircraft early next year,” the statement continued.
Sinyor has welcomed BA’s decision to now show Hapless on its inflight entertainment system but has questioned the airline’s decision to address its apology to the Jewish community.
“The apology whilst appreciated should not be to the Jewish Community. It’s not a Jewish sitcom,” Sinyor wrote on X on Monday. “It’s a satirical British Sitcom with Jews and non-Jews in it.”
“To those who speak on our behalf, I don’t think the decision was antisemitic but ill-thought out,” Sinyor wrote. “Possibly out of fear of a reaction from Muslims who both star in it and love it as much as non-Muslims. We must all unite and stop the hatred, whatever paper you read. That is the absolute core of the series”.
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.