London transport body drops clause in Emirates deal to exclude Israelis

Following criticism and direct intervention from the city’s mayor, Transport for London (TfL) removes controversial clause.

emirates plane 370 (photo credit: REUTERS)
emirates plane 370
(photo credit: REUTERS)
LONDON – Following criticism and direct intervention from the city’s mayor, Transport for London (TfL) has removed a controversial clause in a deal with the Emirates airline that many interpreted as an effort to exclude Israeli businesses.
The clause in a 36 million pound agreement with Emirates meant that the Thames cable car project – known as the Emirates Air Line – would not be able to receive funding from Israeli financial institutions or be able to sell a majority stake to Israeli-owned businesses.
TfL, the body responsible for the transport system in Greater London, is in charge of the cable car project, which runs from Greenwich in southeast London to the Royal Docks in the eastern part of the city.
“We have agreed with Emirates that this clause should be removed from the contract,” said Danny Price, TfL’s head of the Emirates Air Line, on Tuesday.
“The intention behind it was always to give Emirates the option to withdraw their sponsorship, should we sell it to someone else, something which is common in such contracts,” he continued.
“We will work on alternative wording to express this in these simple terms. Moreover, we cannot foresee any circumstances in which we would sell the Emirates Air Line.”
On Monday, London Mayor Boris Johnson intervened and asked TfL commissioner Peter Hendy to deal with the matter.
“The mayor was unaware of the clause in question, the details having been drawn up by TfL officials. When he was told about the clause yesterday, he asked Sir Peter to speak to Emirates,” the mayor’s spokesman said on Tuesday.
“Following those discussions, Emirates agreed to remove the clause and rework the wording.”
The spokesman added that Johnson was pleased Emirates moved quickly to clarify the situation.
A spokesman for the airline said the organization does not discriminate against others and did not intend this with the clause.
“The clause in the contract with TfL was put in place to protect the commercial interests of the Emirates brand. It was not intended to discriminate against any particular person, religion or country. Given the misinterpretation of this clause, Emirates has agreed to remove it,” the spokesman said.
“Emirates, a global multicultural, multimedia company, does not discriminate against passengers of any race, people or religion. Emirates is proud to employ people from over 160 nationalities and connect people from all backgrounds across our international network.”
The Zionist Federation of the UK welcomed the move.
“Thankfully, this oversight has not had any lasting effect on the important trading relationship between the UK and Israel,” said Zionist Federation chairman Paul Charney.
“I would like to thank Sir Peter for urgently resolving this matter. We must remain vigilant against any back-door attempts to boycott Israel in the UK.”