The petition comes in response to mounting criticism following a series of delays caused by Orthodox men refusing to sit next to women on board.

The petition comes in response to mounting criticism following a series of delays caused by Orthodox men refusing to sit next to women on board.

Orthodox community leaders have backed a petition calling on all airlines flying to and from Israel to have “separate planes for women”.

Several prominent Charedi rabbis this week added their names to the online campaign, which has so far attracted more than 10,000 signatures.

It comes in response to mounting criticism following a series of delays caused by Orthodox men refusing to sit next to women on board.

The e-petition calls for airlines to allocate separate planes for female and male customers after a working group looked at various other options, including seating men and women on different sides of the aisle and in different sections of the plane.

“Following our initial consultations with airline management, in which we presented various options, we now feel that the only sustainable way forward is for separate planes,” said Rabbi Shlomo Goslo from the Council for the Purity of the Plane.

“In addition, we are calling for these planes to fly on different sides of the sky, and for them to be readily identifiable in immodest paint.”

A senior manager at a budget airline which flies between London and Tel Aviv said: “The problem is you have different discrimination laws in the UK and Israel. In Israel, you discriminate if you don’t, and in the UK, you discriminate if you do.”

Several Jewish women have made formal harassment complaints after Orthodox men tried to make them move seats, in some instances offering money to do so.

Jen Debias, a spokeswoman for the Jewish Women’s Rights Committee, said: “We continue to be outraged by the idea that some Charedi men’s religious views can impact on a woman’s ability to sit in her allocated seated. However, the proposal to put all men on separate planes certainly warrants further consideration.”

It’s after midday on 1 April so time to ‘fess up… April fool!