The FAA extended its flight ban to Israel for a second 24 hours Wednesday, a day after a missile fell within a mile of the Tel Aviv airport. Delta Air Lines and US Airways already canceled flights for Thursday, while European airlines also canceled more flights Wednesday.
USA Today reports that the FAA released a statement about its decision, explaining, “The agency is working closely with the government of Israel to review the significant new information they have provided and determine whether potential risks to U.S. civil aviation are mitigated to the agency can resolve concerns as quickly as possible.”
While the European Aviation Safety Agency didn’t ban civil flights to Israel, the agency stated Tuesday that it “strongly recommends” airlines refrain from flying there for the time being.
Air France released a statement after canceling flights to the country, saying, “We have decided to suspend our flights to and from Tel Aviv until further notice. Your safety and the safety of our crew remain our top priority.”
Lufthansa and Air Berlin also canceled flights for Thursday. Lufthansa’s decision applies to subsidiaries Germanwings, Austrian Airlines, Swiss, and Brussels Airlines.
ABC News notes that British Airways and Russian carrier Rossiya continued their flights to Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion airport, as did Israel’s commercial airline El Al, whose planes are equipped with their own missile detection programs.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu derided the FAA’s flight ban Tuesday, saying that Hamas would see it as a victory in the conflict between Israel and the Gaza Strip.
The FAA flight ban and other European airlines cancellations mean that Ben Gurion will see 209 flights Wednesday. The ministry said in a statement, “As things stand at the moment, it would appear that several foreign airlines tend to recommence operations to Israel.”
Ben Vogel, editor of IHS Jane’s Airport Review, noted that Hamas has failed to follow through on a July 9 threat to strike the Tel Aviv airport. However, the aviation community “appears to be in no mood to take risks near conflict zones.” Vogel added:
“Israeli aviation officials and diplomats will be highly concerned by the move from several major international airlines to suspend flights to Israel and Hamas will no doubt claim a major propaganda victory.”
Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and U.S. Secretary of State flew into Tel Aviv Wednesday. Bloomberg flew on a commercial El Al flight Wednesday morning as a show of support for Israel. It isn’t clear whether the FAA will extend its flight ban again Thursday.
[Image by hoyasmeg]