Israeli Court Rules Against Night Take-offs From Ben Gurion Airport

High Court accepts appeal by municipalities surrounding airport, claims El Al has taken commercial advantage of special authority to take off by 03:50 A.M. during holiday season.

The High Court of Justice on Wednesday accepted an appeal filed by the Holon Municipality against a recent decision to allow night take-offs from Ben Gurion Airport, ruling against both flight departures during the night and the special grant enabling extra night take-offs during the holiday season.

High Court judges wrote in the lengthy verdict that the appeal was accepted due to the unacceptable deviations from Ben Gurion Airport take-off regulations.

El Al plane
Nir Keidar

In June 2010 Transportation Minister Israel Katz granted the Israel Airport Authority permission to enable flight departures at night. Normally, departures from Ben Gurion have halted between 01:40 A.M. – 05:50 A.M. during the winter, and 01:40 A.M. – 04:50 A.M. in summer.

Shortly after the decision was made to enable 24-hour activity, the municipalities surrounding the airport filed a joint appeal to the High Court to reverse the decision.

The judges also ruled against deviations granted during holiday seasons and toward the Sabbath during which El Al was granted take-offs starting from 03:50 A.M.

The High Court found that El Al had been taking advantage of this privilege throughout the year for commercial purposes, and not to observe the Sabbath and other Jewish holidays.

Holon Mayor Motti Sasson, who lead the struggle, expressed satisfaction with the court's decision and said "not only have we proved our rightness of our claims and turned back the clock with regards to nighttime take-offs, but we also brought about a retroactive cancellation of the improper permit which allowed take-offs from 03:50 A.M."

Sasson said that this is just another step "in the continuing struggle we are engaged and will continue to manage the elementary right to sleep peacefully and without interruption for several hours at night, not fall victim to such political commercial Laentergyut or other."