Israeli airlines cannot operate in Scandinavia due to the countries' refusal to allow profiling to be employed in security checks.
A delegation of high-level officials left for Stockholm on Wednesday in an attempt to hammer out a solution for the crisis over the flights from Israel to Scandinavia. The bone of contention is that the authorities in Copenhagen, Stockholm and Oslo refuse to allow Israeli security officers to conduct security checks based on personal profiling of the passengers. According to the Scandinavians, security checks that differentiate between the different (racial) profiles of passengers are violations of human rights. This position caused the Arkia airline great financial damage when it attempted to operate direct flights to Copenhagen and Stockholm.
In anticipation of the upcoming summer, Arkia is intensifying its pressure on defense officials to receive permission to operate in Scandinavia. Thus Arkia CEO Gadi Tepper sent an angry letter to General Security Services (GSS) Head Yoram Cohen, regarding GSS security requirements of the Israeli airlines and the steep economic damage caused to the airlines as a result.
Until 2011, Arkia operated summer flights to Copenhagen and Stockholm. Due to the stiffening of the Scandinavian stance, and as a result of the GSS orders, Arkia was forced to divert its flights to Malmo in Sweden’s south. But during the previous season Arkia received an order from the GSS to stop the flights from Malmo, due to inadequate security conditions. The summer crisis was averted only at the last moment due to the intervention of the Transportation Ministry’s CEO, but now it seems that Arkia does not intend to leave the entire market in the hands of the Scandinavians this summer. Meanwhile, Scandinavian airline SAS announced that it is renewing its flights to Israel after an absence of ten years.
High-level officials in the Transportation Ministry criticize the head of the GSS, who they feel is unwise in refusing to adapt himself to changing circumstances. Officials in the Foreign Ministry notified the relevant concerns that they are working hard to solve the security issue before the coming summer season. The high-level officials together with Benny Dagan, Israel’s ambassador to Sweden, left for meetings with the Swedes.
“Scandinavia is only a red flag — a warning sign of future developments,” explains a high-placed Foreign Ministry official. “With all due respect to security and defense, Israeli sources must understand that reality is changing. Procedures that other countries agreed to accept from us in the past, may not be accepted in the future. We are the ones who have to adapt ourselves in accordance with the changing circumstances.”