Landing in Tel Aviv, Iberia pilot says ‘Welcome to Palestine’

‘He didn’t mention Israel once,’ passengers say; Spanish carrier apologizes, says pilot taken off Israel route pending probe

Iberia planes on the tarmac at the Madrid Airport. (CC BY-SA2.0 Louis/Wikipedia)
Iberia planes on the tarmac at the Madrid Airport. (CC BY-SA2.0 Louis/Wikipedia)

Israeli passengers on an Israel-bound Iberia flight were astonished late Wednesday when the captain announced near the end of the flight that he was preparing to land the plane “in Palestine.”

During the flight from Madrid by Spain’s national carrier, the pilot announced in Spanish that he was preparing to land “in Tel Aviv, in Palestine.” In English, he subsequently said he was preparing to land “in Tel Aviv,” and did not repeat the “Palestine” comment; neither did he say “Israel.”

Lior, a passenger on the flight, told Channel 2 news that he was “a little bit shocked.”

“I don’t understand why he said this,” said Lior. “We live in the State of Israel and he should have said ‘Israel.’ There was a reason he didn’t say it in English. It was deliberate.”

Another passenger said “everyone noticed” that the pilot didn’t mention Israel by name.

One of the passengers sent a letter to the company complaining about the pilot’s conduct, saying he and his family “were very offended,” and adding, “It is inappropriate and does serve your company well,” Channel 2 reported.

The Spanish news website 20 Minutos reported on Thursday morning that the Israeli ambassador in Madrid penned a “tough letter” to the president of Iberia in which he asked him to take disciplinary measures against the pilot.

Yedioth Ahronoth reported that an Iberia spokeswoman in Israel apologized on behalf of the airline and said the pilot who made the announcement would not be flying the route to Israel until the matter was fully investigated by the airline.

read more:
Never miss breaking news on Israel
Get notifications to stay updated
You're subscribed