As more information surfaces, it appears that I was right. The problem with Delta and Saudi Arabia is not a Delta problem. It’s a Saudi Arabian problem.
From The Corner:
UPDATE: And just like that, I get a new statement in my inbox from Trebor Banstetter of Delta Airlines:
Delta Air Lines does not discriminate nor do we condone discrimination against any of our customers in regards to age, race, nationality, religion, or gender.
Delta does not operate service to Saudi Arabia and does not codeshare with any airline that serves that country. Delta does not intend to codeshare or share reciprocal benefits, such as frequent flier benefits, with Saudi Arabian Airlines, which we have confirmed with SkyTeam, an Amsterdam-based 14-member global airline alliance.
Delta’s only agreement with Saudi Arabian Airlines is a standard industry interline agreement, which allows passengers to book tickets on multiple carriers, similar to the standard interline agreements American Airlines, US Airways and Alaska Airlines have with Saudi Arabian Airlines.
All of the three global airline alliances – Star, which includes United Airlines; oneworld, which includes American Airlines, and SkyTeam, which includes Delta – have members that fly to Saudi Arabia and are subject to that country’s rules governing entry.
As AllahPundit at HotAir puts it:
This isn’t a “Delta problem,” it’s a western-world problem shared by Delta insofar as we happily do business with the Saudis despite some truly nasty informal — and formal — discriminatory policies. (Try getting a church or synagogue built there.) As also noted yesterday, there was no groundswell of opposition to Delta doing business with the Kingdom based on the latter’s policies towards women, for instance; the outrage erupted only when people were faced with the loathsome, historically-charged prospect of Jews being identified for special burdens.
Also, there’s this from the Saudi Embassy in Washington, via CBN:
Some reports suggest the partnership would force Delta to adopt a "no Jews allowed" policy on flights heading to Saudi Arabia. The country bans any traveler with an Israeli stamp in his or her passport from entering the country.
The Saudi Embassy in Washington issued a statement denying the reports.
"Rumors being circulated via the Internet regarding passenger flight restrictions on Saudi Arabian Airlines are completely false," Saudi Embassy spokesman Nail Al-Jubeir said in statement sent to CBN News Friday.
"The Government of Saudi Arabia does not deny visas to U.S. citizens based on their religion," he said.
Take that for what it’s worth. I’m not sure I believe it, either.
Finally, USAToday (one of the original sources of all of this), has a new article worth reading, entitled “Criticism of Delta unfair, some travel industry experts say” (yeah, I hate the phrase “some…experts say” too).
"Delta has been unfairly singled out," says travel expert Henry Harteveldt, a Jewish American and a vice president of Forrester Research. "We may find a lot of Saudi Arabia's policies unpleasant and not agree with them, but any airline flying into any country is obliged to act by the rules of that country."
Joe Brancatelli, a business travel columnist for Portfolio.com, says criticism of Delta's SkyTeam relationship with Saudi Arabian Airlines may have been blown out of proportion, and Delta may have been the victim of misinformation.
But he questions whether U.S. airlines should be more careful about the marketing alliances they form.
"Does Delta want to be in business with an airline whose government has policies we find repugnant?" he asks.
The last is a legitimate question, and should be asked of United, American, or any American business doing business there, and even our government.