The Shin Bet security service has prohibited Sun d'Or airlines from flying charter flights to Zanzibar, Tanzania and Kenya, due to terror warnings. Sun d'Or, a subsidiary of El Al, had wanted to fly to Africa as part of its newly expanded destination list.
Israeli security authorities also limited Sun d'Or's flights to Turkey to thwart terror threats against Israeli airlines abroad, particularly shoulder-launched missile attacks.
The Shin Bet did approve flights to Nigeria, but planes have yet to take off in that direction due to objections by Nigerian authorities to Israel's demand to post its own security personnel at the local airport. Flights to the Seychelles Islands have also been approved.
Sun d'Or CEO Bezalel Karvat responded that he "understands the position of the Shin Bet, but the situation is harmful to our activity and allows foreign airlines to continue to fly passengers from Israel to these destinations, through Europe, for example."
Ethiopian Airlines, which operates a regular route between Adis Ababa and Ben-Gurion International Airport, is the main foreign airline to fly Israelis to these destinations, as it is not subject to Shin Bet directives. European airlines, such as Brussels Airlines, fly Israeli passengers from Israel through Belgium to Africa, particularly Israeli business travelers.
A Nigerian charter company also flies Nigerian pilgrims directly to Ben-Gurion.
Arkia has discontinued its flights to Kenya due to security regulations that went into effect after terrorists fired a shoulder-launched at a passenger flight that had taken off from Mombassa in 2002. Airline officials said the pilots saw two streaks of light on the left side of the aircraft, but decided to continue to Israel. The airliner landed safely at Ben-Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv about five hours later. It was escorted in by Israeli F-15 fighter jets.
Sun d'Or has flown 333,432 passengers so far this year, an increase of some 116 percent over January-October 2007, and now has a market share of 3.44 percent.
Want to enjoy 'Zen' reading - with no ads and just the article? Subscribe todaySubscribe now