Two Palestinian citizens of Israel were forced off an Aegean Airlines flight after other Israelis protested against their presence on the plane, the aviation company revealed on Tuesday.
"An initially small group of passengers very vocally and persistently asked for two other Israeli passengers to be checked for security issues," Aegean said in a statement.
The Sunday night flight to Tel Aviv was delayed by more than 90 minutes as result of the racially-motivated disturbance.
Israeli media identified the two as an "Israeli Arab and a Palestinian," saying the protesting passengers were Jewish.
The company said only that one of the men held an Israeli passport while the other had a valid Israeli residence permit, without discussing their ethnicity.
"While it is indeed unfortunate that they were possibly racially profiling the customers, indeed their fellow Israelis... safety must be first," the company said.
By the time the police arrived to check the two passengers' passports, finding nothing suspicious, the outcry had spread.
|It started with three or four people and by the end there were 60-70 people standing up, demanding that the pair disembark
- Aegean Airlines spokesperson
"It started with three or four people and by the end there were 60-70 people standing up, demanding that the pair disembark," a company spokesperson said.
"The pilot said anyone who does not feel safe to fly should disembark, and would not be compensated."
"But by that stage, the two men were in a poor state and wanted to leave themselves," the spokesperson added.
Aegean said it had offered the two men overnight accommodation and transport. They reportedly received some compensation and flew to Israel on an El Al flight on Monday.
"We thank again the two Israeli passengers that agreed to disembark for their understanding and collaboration, and we apologise for the whole episode which was indeed extremely unfortunate" Aegean said.