Lufthansa CEO Jens Ritter has offered a note of apology and compensation to Jewish passengers who were denied boarding on a flight to Budapest on the basis of their appearance. But a class action lawsuit against the German carrier is heating up.
Lufthansa CEO Offers Personalized Apology Notes To Jewish Passengers Denied Boarding
A large number of Jewish passengers were denied boarding on a flight from Frankfurt (FRA) to Budapest (BUD) on the basis of their appearance as Jews, with Lufthansa employees collectively punishing anyone who appeared Jewish for the mask violations of a much smaller subset of passengers on a New York (JFK) to Frankfurt flight.
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The letter, which included the name of the passenger handwritten by the CEO (and also hand signed by the CEO) contained the following verbiage:
I am writing to you as the CEO of Lufthansa Airlines to express my sincere apologies that you were denied boarding on your connecting flight from Frankfurt to Budapest on May 4th. We deeply regret what you experienced, not only for the travel inconvenience caused, but especially for the personal impact that this incident may have had on you.
Lufthansa has launched a thorough investigation to fully understand what occurred on May 4th so that it may never be repeated. We are embarrassed by what transpired because it is not reflective of who we are as a company or the values of inclusion we embrace. Lufthansa stands firm in opposition to racism, discrimination and anti-Semitism in any form.
We would like to offer you reimbursement of your travel expenses for the JFK-Frankfurt-Budapest flight, as well as any incidental travel expenses that you may have incurred as a result of our actions in not permitting you to travel on your onward journey to Budapest. Additionally, Lufthansa agrees to pay compensation for denied boarding in accordance with EU Regulation 261/2004. In order to seek reimbursement please contact firstname.lastname@example.org who shall coordinate that with you. (Please see attachment for further instructions.) I want to make clear that this reimbursement is made in good faith by Lufthansa and will not require you to waive any other legal rights that you may have as a result of being denied boarding.
Once again, I want to apologize to you and the other travelers for what has happened on May 4th and allow us the opportunity to regain the trust of the Jewish community.
Since the incident, each apology from Lufthansa has become more personal and more direct. While I do not doubt the sincerity of this letter, I do wonder whether it will be effective or whether it come too late.
The letters were only sent to those passengers who have not signed onto a class action lawsuit against Lufthansa for what transpired at Frankfurt Airport.
Class Action Lawsuit Heating Up
The American Center for Law & Justice (ALCJ), a conservative advocacy group run by Jay Sekulow (who also served as one of President Trump’s attorneys during his first impeachment trial), is suing on behalf of 26 passengers who were denied boarding. Others may still join the lawsuit.
In a blog post, Sekulow explained:
It’s hard to comprehend that in 2022 Jewish airline passengers could be banned from a flight in Germany and surrounded by armed German police, simply because they are Jewish, yet that is exactly what has happened. This blatant public display of antisemitism is beyond outrageous…
The ACLJ began receiving calls immediately after the incident, including from a number of the victims who had been in touch with Dov Hikind of Americans Against Antisemitism, and community organizer Ezzie Schaffran, who referred them to the ACLJ. We have already spoken with Lufthansa’s legal team and put them on notice regarding our representation. We will be moving forward toward seeking justice for our clients in the coming days.
The right to exercise one’s religion and to be free from discrimination due to one’s religious faith is an inalienable right that is protected by both international law and the laws of many nations. The [ALCJ] has been dedicated to defending this right since its inception, and we will continue to do so here. Antisemitic behavior and discrimination should never be tolerated.
The ACLJ has promised the lawsuit will be officially filed “in the coming days.”
The Lufthansa CEO Jens Ritter (not to be confused with the Lufthansa Group CEO Carsten Spohr) has issued personalized apologies to each of the Jewish passengers denied boarding on the basis of their appearance as Jews (except for those who have already joined a class action lawsuit against the airline). The offer of compensation does not require waiving other legal rights, as it appears now that Lufthansa will face a discrimination lawsuit from a prominent American conservative advocacy group.