Airlines cancel Israel flights over missile, security concerns

Tuesday , July 22, 2014 - 4:01 PM

By SONJA CARLSON Standard-Examiner Staff

Flights on a number of U.S. Airlines have been prohibited by the Federal Aviation Administration from flying to or from Israel’s Ben Gurion International Airport for up to 24 hours. Many European airlines have also cancelled flights, following a “strong recommendation” by the European Aviation Safety Agency to avoid Tel Aviv.

Delta Air Lines, United Airlines and US Airways -- the three U.S. airlines with scheduled service to Israel -- have suspended their flights, according to the New York Times. Air Canada has also cancelled it’s flight from Toronto to Tel Aviv scheduled to leave tonight, along with it’s return flight tomorrow, according to CBC News.

The FAA restrictions were prompted after a rocket landed in the area, according to the Associated Press. A Delta flight from New York to Tel Aviv was flying over the Mediterranean when it had to turn around and land in Paris instead on Tuesday.

While many of the more than 2,000 Palestinian rockets fired at Israel have headed for the Ben Gurion Airport area and been intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome defense system, police spokeswoman Luba Samri said the rocket’s landing was the closest to the airport since fighting started on July 8, according to Fox News.

A major impact on Israel’s economy could be the result of further flight suspensions, as Ben Gurion is Israel’s main international airport. For a country that is home to about 8 million people, 14 million passengers passed through Ben Gurion last year, according to the Christian Science Monitor.

"There is no reason for the American companies to stop their flight and give a prize to terror," Transportation Minister Israel Katz told the Jerusalem Post, stressing there is no safety concern for passenger planes and Ben Gurion is safe for take-offs and landings.

The FAA will continue to keep an eye on the situation and will provide U.S. airlines further instructions as soon as conditions permit, but no later than 24 hours from the time the original Notice to Airmen went forth, the agency said in a statement. 

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