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Air France pilot 'insults' Moroccan king

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File photo of an Air France airplane. Photo: Kentaro Iemoto
17:25 CET+01:00
An Air France pilot's attempt at a joke has outraged a group of passengers and landed the airline giant in court. Was it an innocent attempt to calm a group of frustrated fliers or the ‘racist and discriminatory' mocking of a nation's leader?

The pilot of an Air France flight from Morocco to France last December has found himself at the centre of a furore after making a jokey comment that the north African country’s king was to blame for a delay to the flight.

While awaiting take-off, the captain of Air France flight 2497 from Casablanca to Paris took to the intercom to explain that a 20-minute delay in departure was due to the presence of  King Mohammed's personal jet on the runway.

“[All complaints] can be addressed directly to King Mohammed VI, Royal Palace, Rabat,” he informed the passengers, according to French TV channel TF1.

A group of passengers, calling themselves the AF2497 Collective, have taken umbrage against this reference to the Moroccan monarch, and a complaint has been lodged with a court in Paris.

In a letter to Air France chiefs the collective said the pilot's comments were an “attack on the dignity of the King of Morocco and all Moroccans and [amounted to] clearly discriminatory and racist insults.

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"The pilot neglected the security of the passengers by provoking their anger," the letter added.

For its part, Air France has expressed its regret for what it called an ‘isolated incident’ and said the pilot has been sanctioned. The case will be heard at an emergency proceeding in Paris on February 25th, according to French radio RTL.

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