An El Al airplane in flight.
An El Al airplane in flight. Photo by Archive
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Holon municipality filed objections on Monday to a request by El Al Israel Airlines that the city be brought into a case the airline has filed in an effort to lift the ban on night flights taking off from Ben-Gurion International Airport. The city called El Al's request irrelevant, saying the case is really about whether renovation of the airport's runways creates air traffic congestion that would justify easing the ban on nighttime takeoffs.

In its response, Holon took the position that the law simply does not allow El Al to operate flights in violation of the nighttime ban, while the airline never filed its request with the Civil Aviation Authority director, who the municipality says is authorized by the court to deal with such requests.

Last weekend El Al was forced to make revisions to its flight schedule due to an interim High Court of Justice injunction banning flights in the middle of the night in an effort to eliminate airplane noise during these hours over Holon, among other places. The El Al schedule initially included five flights on early Friday during those hours, which it was forced to move to earlier or later time slots.

The airline is seeking urgent clarification from the High Court over the interim order, saying that at weekends it needs nighttime slots so it can return aircraft from Europe before sundown Friday, to avoid desecration of the Sabbath. Last week the High Court issued an interim injunction refining the ban on night takeoffs by prohibiting them between 1:40 A.M. and 5:50 A.M., but giving the Israel Airports Authority latitude to authorize flights to take off until 2 A.M. and begin again at 5 A.M. in the event of heavy traffic at the airport. Justice Miriam Naor also gave a green light for takeoffs between 2 A.M. and 5 A.M., but only in extreme circumstances and if specific reasons are provided justifying the move.