السبت , مايو 15 2021

US lifts ban on flights to Tel Aviv

Passengers and airline staff stand near a check-in desk of an airline that cancelled its flight out of Tel Aviv at Ben Gurion International airport on 22 July 2014 The abrupt flight cancellations in Tel Aviv left some passengers stranded

The US aviation regulator has lifted its ban on US carriers flying to Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion airport.

But it has warned that the situation with the conflict in Gaza remains “very fluid”.

The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) first imposed the ban on Tuesday and extended it further on Wednesday citing the “potentially hazardous situation” in Israel and Gaza.

The cancellations had drawn criticism in US and Israel.

“The FAA has lifted its restrictions on US airline flights into and out of Israel’s Ben Gurion Airport by cancelling a Notice to Airmen it renewed earlier today (Wednesday),” the regulator was quoted as saying by the AFP news agency.

Meanwhile, three French and German airlines, including Air Berlin and Lufthansa, have cancelled more flights of their own to Tel Aviv amid ongoing safety concerns.

Lufthansa said its decision to cancel flights also applied to its subsidiaries including Germanwings, Austrian Airlines, Swiss and Brussels Airlines.

Air France said it was suspending such flights “until further notice”.

British Airways, however, has said it will continue scheduled flights into the region with no current plans to suspend service.

‘Show solidarity’

The initial US flight suspension had prompted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to ask US Secretary of State John Kerry for help lifting the FAA ban.

Israel’s transportation ministry had said: “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.”

On Tuesday, former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg flew on Israeli airline El Al to Tel Aviv to “show solidarity with the Israeli people and to demonstrate that it is safe to fly in and out of Israel”.

US Secretary of State John Kerry (left) shakes hands with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Tel Aviv on 23 July 2014 Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (right) appealed to US Secretary of State John Kerry to end the flight restrictions

However, the same day, the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) said it “strongly recommends” that airlines should avoid operating to and from Tel Aviv.

Earlier, Delta said a flight from New York City to Tel Aviv was diverted to Paris on Tuesday after Israeli police confirmed that a rocket landed approximately one mile (1.6km) from Ben Gurion airport.

The suspension in flights came less than a week after Israel began a ground operation in Gaza, and as airlines around the world re-think their flight paths over conflict areas in the wake of the crash of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 in eastern Ukraine.

map showing rocket ranges

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