El Al plane
El Al plane Photo by Nir Keidar
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The High Court’s ruling Wednesday barring nighttime takeoffs from Ben-Gurion International Airport due to aircraft noise was already implemented yesterday.

Although the court ruling made an exception for El Al night flights in the early hours on Fridays to make sure planes don’t have to fly over Shabbat, this week the airline did not schedule any such flights for early this morning.

The High Court barred takeoffs during the winter from 1:40 A.M. to 5:50 A.M. and 1:40 to 4:50 A.M. during the summer, to be accompanied by specific arrangements which would allow for exceptions to the ban.

The case was filed by the Holon municipality, which sits on the western-bound flight path from the airport.

Holon argued that El Al was using the Shabbat exception for commercial purposes rather than simply to accommodate religious observance. The court made it clear that the exception for El Al would only be available as needed to respect Shabbat.

A lawyer for the Holon Municipality, Avner Yarkoni, said the fact that El Al had managed not to schedule flights early this morning was proof that the airline had been taking advantage of the exception it was given for commercial purposes and not simply out of respect for Shabbat. El Al said in response that its flights were taking off “as usual.”

A representative of one major European airline who asked not to be identified told Haaretz his airline’s flights currently depart late enough not to be affected by the ban, but the ruling will limit the airline in the future, he added. Industry sources said the major impact of the ban will fall on foreign vacation charter operators, which schedule many departures in the middle of the night.