Air France smacks 'Palestine' pilot, says DSPG, Rad boycott was insignificant

Comment does not reflect official policies of the airline, says Europe chief Roucheau
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Air France has taken disciplinary action against a pilot who created an international incident by telling passengers on a flight to Tel Aviv that they were about to land in "Israel-Palestine".

In the ensuing uproar, several major Israeli companies announced boycotts against the French carrier, led by state-run phone company Bezeq, which has 8,500 employees. Next in line were DSP Group (Nasdaq:DSPG)

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, and the Rad-Binat group, which fell short of ordering employees not to fly Air France, but recommended they use other carriers.

The pilot will not fly the Paris-Tel Aviv line over the next few years, according to a letter from the airline's European head to Bezeq CEO Ilan Biran.

In the letter, Etienne Roucheau wrote that he learned of the Bezeq boycott through the media and through a fax from Biran. "As you state in your fax, this was an inappropriate comment and does not reflect official policies of the airline, which has apologized for the incident," Roucheau wrote.

Roucheau said that disciplinary action will be taken against the pilot, but those measures will not be publicized.

The company said yesterday that the number of telephone inquiries and reservations is stable.

"We have not noticed a drop in Israeli travelers. None of the three frequent flyers who resigned their memberships due to the incident were regular customers. Bezeq has done little corporate flying with us, as most of its managers and employees fly Israeli national carrier El Al. It appears the boycott is primarily a declaration."

The airline also called other corporations that have declared boycotts, chipmaker DSPG and the RAD Binat group, insignificant consumers of flights to France.