airport - AP - May 6 2011
TRAVELING, HOPEFULLY: Maccabi Tel Aviv fans headed to the Euroleague Final Four in Barcelona were among thousands stranded at Ben-Gurion International Airport last night. Photo by AP
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Delays and changes in flight schedules are likely to continue at Ben-Gurion International Airport until Wednesday, due to the shortage of uncontaminated jet fuel.

The discovery of the contaminated fuel Thursday grounded dozens of flights out of Israel; all of the delayed flights had departed by Saturday.

The process of replacing the tainted fuel with clean fuel from the state's storage facilities will continue today. When the process is completed, planes will be able to refuel directly from Ben-Gurion's fuel tanks rather than from trucks that brought fuel from outside the airport. Planes will also be able to take on more than a minimum amount of fuel to get them to a nearby airport to refuel more fully, as they have been doing since Thursday.

Planes landing in Israel have carried enough fuel to get them back to their destination or to refuel at a nearby airport.

Ben-Gurion Airport manager Shmuel Kandel said he believed the process would be completed by Wednesday. The airport authorities are asking passengers to check with their airlines for possible changes in their flight time. Israel Airports Authority officials are still waiting for the results of fuel sent Friday to a laboratory in Germany for analysis.

Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz visited the airport Friday to view the fuel replacement process first hand.

Out of 23 flights delayed on Thursday, 11 were still on the ground on Friday morning, but over the weekend all the flights had departed. Meanwhile, planes have refueled only with enough untainted fuel to enable them to take off and land at Larnaca, Cyprus or Amman, Jordan, where they could refuel and continue to their final destination.

El Al Airlines received special permission to take on its entire load of fuel Friday to allow it to land in Bangkok at an hour that would ensure that its Orthodox passengers would not find themselves desecrating the Sabbath.

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