Thursday, April 30, 2009

BMI's "Apolitical Policy" Takes Israel Off The Map (Updated)

Airline BMI Takes Israel off Maps:
IDF Army Radio reports that British airline BMI has removed Israel from the electronic maps displayed to passengers in some of its planes. The report claimed that the reason was to avoid offending Muslim passengers.
Israel does not appear in maps on BMI flights between London and Tel Aviv, and that the pre-independence Arabic name for Haifa appears instead, according to the report.

In addition, the electronic maps display the distance between the plane and Mecca. "This is a fault. The electronic map will be removed from the airline's two planes that operate the route to Tel Aviv,” BMI said in response. “We make every effort to take passengers' sensitivities into account through an apolitical policy."[emphasis added]
I suppose it would be pointless to note that the BMI policy is anything but apolitical. It is a policy that takes the politically expedient course in doing what is necessary to prevent complaints.

Electronic maps that tell you the distance from the plane to Mecca is an extra thrown in for a particular group. It is not necessary, but a nice plus for particular customers.
Having a complete and accurate map is a normal service--go to the trouble of removing a country from a map is a political statement.

Which countries will BMI remove out of respect for the sensitivities of other customers?

UPDATE: More details on what happened--some that cast a better light on BMI, some that don't.
Israel has been excluded from digital maps displayed for passengers on British airline BMI flights from London Heathrow to Ben-Gurion Airport.

Instead of viewing Tel Aviv or other Israeli cities signposted on screens, customers flying on two BMI-owned Airbus A320 airplanes have instead been exclusively shown Haifa, spelled "Khefa" - the Arab name of the city before 1948.

BMI, which runs flights to Ben-Gurion Airport twice daily, has declared that the maps are the result of a logistical error due to the company's failure to modify the system created by British airline BMED (British Mediterranean Airways), now defunct, from which BMI acquired the planes two years ago.
Okay, so maybe it is all a mistake and BMI is less culpable.

But then there is this, which indicates a mentality at BMI that is very much in tune with the 'mistake' that happened:
BMI also made headlines lately for firing a staff member for refusing to fly to Saudi Arabia.

Flight attendant Lisa Ashton was told to wear an abaya, a black robe which covers everything but the face, feet and hand, in public places in Saudi Arabia. She was also instructed to walk behind her male colleagues, irrespective of rank.

Ashton, a practicing Christian, filed for unfair dismissal at a UK employment tribunal earlier this year; the court dismissed the case, stating that BMI was justified in imposing "rules of a different culture" on staff.

Ashton may seek a judicial review of the decision and has been in consultations with human rights organization Liberty
I suppose that if BMI can employ "rules of a different culture" on an employee, they would see now problem imposing them on a map. Still, the phony distinction the court made between culture and religion is absurd and only opens the door to more pandering to Islamists.

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