January 24, 2018
Thursday, July 24, 2014

US, Europe lift ban on flights to Israel

Israel won a partial reprieve from the economic pain of its Gaza war today with the lifting of a US ban on commercial flights to Tel Aviv, as fighting pushed the Palestinian death toll over 700.

A truce between the Jewish state and Hamas-led Islamist guerrillas remained elusive despite intensive mediation bids.

Though Israel's Iron Dome rocket interceptor has shot down most of the rockets fired from Gaza, one that came close to Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion Airport on Tuesday prompted the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to bar American flights there.

An ensuing wave of cancellations by foreign airlines emptied Israel's usually bustling international gateway and hurt its hi-tech economy at the height of summer tourist season.

The FAA cancelled the ban late yesterday after reviewing the security situation. The European Air Safety Agency (EASA) said today it was about to follow suit and lift its own recommendation to avoid flying to Tel Aviv.

US Airways, a unit of American Airlines Group Inc, said it was resuming its non-stop Tel Aviv to Philadelphia service. Germany's Lufthansa said its suspension of flights to Tel Aviv would continue to Friday.

"The Europeans did not really deliberate over this, but acted more as a follow-up to the American decision," said Gadi Regev, chief of staff for Israel's Civil Aviation Authority.
Some European flights have been diverted to Cyprus's Larnaca airport, where passengers took Israeli carriers to Ben Gurion.

In what appeared to be an attempt to trigger a fresh FAA ban, Hamas said it launched at least two rockets at Ben Gurion today. But no sirens were heard at the airport as the rockets flew wide and were shot down by Iron Dome over Tel Aviv, to the west, and Petah Tikva, to the north.

British low cost carrier easyJet said it will resume flights to Tel Aviv as scheduled from tomorrow after regulators lifted advice over flying into the Israeli airport.

easyJet said it would operate a flight from Tel Aviv to London this afternoon, before returning to its normal schedule, which includes connections between Tel Aviv and both London and Geneva, tomorrow.

"easyJet will continue to monitor the safety advice on travel to and from Tel Aviv from all relevant authorities," the company said in an emailed statement.

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Tags:  flights  US  Europe  Tel Aviv  Israel  war  

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