EasyJet and several other airlines have cancelled services to Israel, after a rocket landed near Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion airport.
Delta Air Lines and United Airlines have also suspended services between the US and Israel indefinitely, while Germany’s Lufthansa and Air France have also suspended flights.
Yesterday’s rocket attack was the closest to the airport so far, said police spokeswoman Luba Samri, and destroyed a house, slightly injuring one Israeli in the nearby Tel Aviv suburb of Yehud.
Aviation authorities reacted swiftly. The US Federal Aviation Administration prohibited American airlines from flying to Tel Aviv for 24 hours “due to the potentially hazardous situation created by the armed conflict in Israel and Gaza”.
Later, the European Aviation Safety Agency issued an advisory to airlines saying it “strongly recommends” airlines avoid the airport.
Air Canada, Alitalia, Dutch KLM, Turkish Airlines and Greece’s Aegean Airlines were the other carriers cancelling flights to Tel Aviv over safety concerns amid the increasing violence.
Israeli transportation minister Yisrael Katz called on the US aviation authority to reconsider, calling the flight ban “unnecessary” and saying the Iron Dome missile defence system provided cover for civil aviation.
“Ben-Gurion Airport is safe and completely guarded and there is no reason whatsoever that American companies would stop their flights and hand terror a prize,” he said.
But British Airways said yesterday it was carrying on with its twice-daily London to Tel Aviv services. “We are continuing to operate to Israel as normal,” a BA spokeswoman said.
UK low-fare airline easyJet said it was scrapping Israel services scheduled for today. EasyJet said: “The safety and security of easyJet’s passengers and crew is the airline’s highest priority.
“Due to the (American) Federal Aviation Administration’s instruction to all United States’ airlines to suspend their flights to Israel easyJet is suspending its services to and from Tel Aviv for 24 hours and as a result will not be operating Luton/Tel Aviv/Luton and Basel/Tel Aviv/Basel flights on Wednesday July 23rd.
“Thereafter, easyJet will review its operations to and from Israel on a day by day basis taking into account the advice from all relevant authorities.
“EasyJet will do all we can to look after our passengers. We will try to provide suitable and secure hotel accommodation for affected passengers and will fly affected passengers home as soon as we can.”
EasyJet cancelled flights are EZS1191 0615 Basel – Tel Aviv, EZY2085 1225 London Luton – Tel Aviv, EZS1192 1215 Tel Aviv – Basel, EZY2086 2020 Tel Aviv – London Luton.