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Passenger traffic moving through Ben-Gurion Airport this summer stood at 1.94 million people - 16 percent below forecasts, the Israel Airports Authority announced yesterday. The figure for July-August 2006 was 5.5 percent lower than the parallel period in 2005, when nearly 2.5 million travelers passed through Ben-Gurion.

The war in Lebanon, which broke out July 12, was the main culprit, depressing incoming tourism. The decline in passengers was even more salient because the number of flights actually increased by 8.2 percent in July and 5.4 percent in August. Despite the drop, overall passenger traffic is still up 5.8 percent for the year, with flight traffic up 0.9 percent compared to the parallel period last year.

Among the 20 major airlines servicing the airport, Air France enjoyed the greatest growth in operations, at 72.6 percent, followed by Austrian Airlines (39.5 percent) and Turkish charter company Fly Air (67.5 percent).