Qantas Denies Barring Jews from Its Weekly Flights to Damascus

Qantas, the Australian national airline, denied today a report that it had barred Jews from its weekly flight to Damascus. A spokesman for the airline’s New York office, said the report, which has led to an investigation by the Australian government, was due to erroneous reading of the company’s regulations by a travel agent in Britain.

The spokesman explained that the Syrian government requires planes that fly over its air space to land in that country at least once a week as a result of which Qantas stops in Damascus weekly on its Canberra-London run. Jews and passengers with Israeli passports or visas had been advised that Syrian law prohibits Jews from entering the country and that they might run into a problem even in transit, the spokesman said. But he stressed the decision was always left up to the passenger.

However, the spokesman said that after the incident in which a woman was told by a British travel agent that Jews were barred from the flight to Syria, the Syrian government advised Qantas that there would be no problem for any of its passengers. The airline has now discontinued the policy of advising persons of the potential problem, he said. After the initial report, the Victorian Jewish Board of Deputies in Victoria, Australia demanded the ban be lifted.

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