Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr
Photo: SASCHA STEINBACH / EPA
CEO Carsten Spohr has intervened in the debate about how to deal with Jewish passengers on a Lufthansa flight.
According to SPIEGEL information, he telephoned the President of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, Josef Schuster, on Thursday.
Spohr also personally apologized on this occasion, as confirmed by Lufthansa.
Otherwise, the airline did not provide any information about the content of the conversation.
The background is an incident on Wednesday before last on flight LH 401 from New York to Frankfurt am Main.
Passengers in a tour group of more than 130 people were affected.
After landing at Germany's largest airport in Frankfurt, the orthodox Jews wanted to travel on to Budapest.
There were problems on board.
Some passengers in the group apparently disregarded the mask requirement or gathered in the aisles of the machine.
The latter is prohibited under US law for safety reasons.
It is unclear how many passengers did not follow the rules.
Lufthansa is currently still evaluating crew reports.
Repeated requests from the crew apparently remained largely without effect.
The newspaper "Jüdische Allgemeine" quotes a fellow passenger who reported that the crew "very friendly and with the patience of an angel" tried to persuade those affected.
It was also apparently announced in an announcement that passengers who flout the regulations might be denied the onward flight, the newspaper writes.
According to the passenger, "almost no one behaved 100 percent correctly" in the area where she was sitting.
A fellow passenger cried after asking a group of mask refusers to put on a protective mask and then receiving a harsh reaction.
It was then implemented by the crew.
Arrived in Frankfurt am Main, Lufthansa refused a large part of the group the onward flight to Budapest.
The Airbus finally took off with only 30 passengers.
Lufthansa justified the measure with the incidents on board the flight from New York – however, apparently no consideration was given to who had really previously broken the rules and who had not.
Various media reports say that those who were identifiable as travelers of the Jewish faith by their clothing were excluded from the flight at the gate in Frankfurt.
Even passengers from the group who argued that they had behaved correctly were apparently not allowed to continue flying to Budapest.
A traveler is said to have shouted "Nazi".
Lufthansa also called in the federal police when the situation got louder.
Officials tried to calm the heated atmosphere.
Security circles say Lufthansa employees feared displeasure from passengers.
The officials at the gate no longer determined who had actually violated the mask rule, since Lufthansa could not make any assignment as to which of the passengers was on board the LH 401 from New York.
The ban on carriage is a purely civil law measure imposed by Lufthansa.
Both the Hessian State Police and the Federal Police were on site.
Apparently, the word "Nazi" was called out by a traveler during the police operation.
An officer then attempted to identify the person by asking
Lufthansa had already apologized for the incident in Frankfurt on Tuesday.
One regrets "the circumstances surrounding the decision to exclude the affected passengers from the flight" and "continues to work intensively on the clarification".
It is unfortunate that a larger group of passengers has been sanctioned and not just individuals.