Flights to Europe resume haltingly
Air traffic between Israel and Europe, which had shut down due to the cloud of volcanic ash from Iceland, is gradually returning to normal. El Al Israel Airlines said yesterday it was renewing its flights from Ben-Gurion International Airport to Paris, Vienna, Budapest and Zurich.
The carrier restored service to Moscow, Kiev and Madrid yesterday.
But three flights to London - two operated by El Al and one by its subsidiary, Sun D'Or - were canceled yesterday after British skies were closed again due to the ash.
Lufthansa Flight 691 to Frankfurt took off from Ben-Gurion at 5 A.M. yesterday; Flight 690, from Frankfurt to Tel Aviv, took off at 10:30 P.M. on Monday.
Brussels Airlines restored service to Tel Aviv last night, with a flight that left Belgium last night and was scheduled to return to Brussels at 1 A.M. The flight was full, a Brussels Airlines spokesman said.
Lufthansa's spokesman in Israel, Tal Muskal, said in response to a question from TheMarker that its flights were not overcrowded, perhaps because Israelis trying to get home for Independence Day found other ways to do so while those leaving Israel did not want to travel on the holiday itself.
The Milan airport also closed down again due to the spread of the ash. As a result, Israir's flight to Milan was canceled and the airline flew to Rome instead.
Arkia renewed service to Paris yesterday and also had flights scheduled for Bordeaux and to Munich.
An Air France flight from Paris landed at Ben-Gurion yesterday, with a return flight scheduled to depart today.
KLM also renewed flights from Tel Aviv to Amsterdam.
Ben-Gurion Airport Managing Director Shmuel Kandel said yesterday that the restoration of service by some airlines did not overburden the airport. He said that staffing was sufficient for the traffic, which was "still within the boundaries of what the airport is used to."
A malfunction in one of the airport's CT scanners for baggage caused some delays in takeoffs yesterday; the machine had to be recalibrated, and some security checks had to be repeated.
Another unusual occurence was the last-minute cancelation of a British Airways flight to London. Passengers, who had already boarded when the closure of London airports due to the volcanic ash was announced, had to deplane.
A group of 150 Zionist leaders from abroad on a "footsteps of Herzl" mission landed at Ben-Gurion yesterday after being delayed in Budapest for three days.