London, Feb 20 : A Muslim airport worker has accused airline Cathay Pacific of racism after he was refused a job interview – only to be offered one when he applied two days later using a fake white British-sounding name, reports Mail on Sunday.
Algerian-born Salim Zakhrouf applied to Cathay Pacific for a job as a passenger services officer at Heathrow Airport. Zakhrouf, 38, who has lived in Britain since 1991 and is a UK citizen, was told by email he had not been selected for interview.
But applying 48 hours later as 'Ian Woodhouse' with an identical CV and home address, he was invited for an interview by the same personnel officer who had first refused him.
A furious Mr Zakhrouf, who has 17 years' customer-service experience and works as a Heathrow flight handling agent, refused to attend. Instead he called his union, Unite, which plans to bring a case accusing Cathay Pacific of racial discrimination to an employment tribunal.
Within three hours of The Mail on Sunday contacting the airline, Cathay Pacific's UK Head of Marketing Roberto Abbondio called to apologise. He blamed an 'administrative error' as staff tried to process 709 applications and said Cathay was reviewing its recruitment process after a case he described as 'unfortunate and disappointing'.
Cathay Pacific's UK Personnel Manager Alison Loftin also then emailed Mr Zakhrouf to apologise and to arrange a meeting with her. Zakhrouf, who is married with a 19-month-old daughter, told The Mail on Sunday: 'It's very strange I only received a proper response when you got in touch. 'After the way I was treated I have no desire to work for Cathay. 'The way they handled my application was racist and unfair.
'I have applied seven times for jobs at Cathay in the past three years and I have been rejected every time. 'This has been a very unpleasant experience and will make me very wary of applying for jobs in future.'
Unite regional officer Balvinder Bir said: 'We have consulted our solicitors on this case. 'We take these matters very seriously and will be giving our member our full support.'