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Now that U.S. Customs and Border Protection operates a controversial pre-clearance facility at Abu Dhabi Airport, Etihad Airways, the United Arab Emirates’ national airline, finds itself in the line of fire.

The airline, one of the fastest growing in the world, has taken to Twitter to refute charges in a New York Post article that Etihad “has wiped Israel from its flight map,” and refuses to board Israeli passengers.

Etihad indeed doesn’t fly to Israel — nor does El Al fly to the UAE — so its route map wouldn’t show Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv.

Etihad points out that its in-flight maps “are industry standard and do not identify countries by name.”

“Our website lists Israel as one of more than 150 country options for passenger documentation when booking flights,” Etihad said.

When I took Etihad’s website-booking engine out for a spin this morning to go through options for booking a flight from Chicago to Abu Dhabi, it accepted an Israeli mobile phone number as a contact option, and permitted payment with an Israeli credit card.

Citing 2013 statistics, Etihad said the airline “carried more than 1,000 passengers traveling with Israeli passports.”

“In fact, we do not discriminate in any way and welcome passengers of all faiths and religions, carrying valid documentation,” Etihad stated.

Here’s how Etihad handled the controversy in social media:





Airlines For America, the U.S. airline trade group, opposes the pre-clearance facility in the UAE, arguing that it gives the Gulf carrier an unfair competitive advantage.

Tags: etihad, israel
Photo Credit: Etihad Airways route map doesn't list Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv because it doesn't fly there, but the airline said it transported 1,000 Israeli passport-holders in 2013. Etihad Airways