Airline bans crucifixes and bibles on flights to mid-east

A UK airline has warned staff not to wear Christian jewellery or take bibles on board flights to Saudi Arabia to “respect the customs” of the Islamic country.

Under the HR policy of BMI, flight attendants on planes to Saudi Arabia are advised against wearing crucifixes or St. Christopher medals so they do not cause offence to Muslim passengers.

A number of staff are said to have complained about the ban, with reports suggesting some are considering taking BMI to employment tribunal claiming religious discrimination.

BMI, the only UK airline that flies to Saudi Arabia from the UK, said it was following guidelines on Islamic law from the Home Office.

“There are certain sensitivities in operating in a county like Saudi Arabia,” said BMI spokesman Phil Shepherd. “We worked closely with the Foreign Office in finding the best way to manage it and as far as we are aware there is not a major problem.”

Shepherd, who denied reports that up to 40 staff had complained, said the rules were part of its “obligation” to Saudi traditions and that any staff who did not wish to adhere to the guidelines could transfer to short-haul routes without any difference in salary.

“The channels are there for staff to discuss any concerns they have with their managers,” Shepherd said.

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