Minister extends airport night-flight restrictions
Transport Minister Ephraim Sneh ignored appeals from several foreign ministries and airlines when he decided yesterday to impose further night-flying restrictions at Ben-Gurion Airport.
From October 26 restrictions on night landings and take-offs at the international airport will be extended by half an hour, from 5:30 to 6:00 A.M. In discussions at the Transport Ministry yesterday, Sneh considered deferring restrictions on noisier aircraft and showing some preferential treatment in awarding time slots to airlines that would be hit by the extended no-fly night hours. However, at the close of the meeting, it was decided that the quietest planes would be granted first take off slots at 6:00 A.M.
Among the airlines affected by the newest night restrictions are Lufthansa, Alitalia, Czech Airlines, KLM, Malev, Turkish Airlines and Swiss Airlines, all of which operate flights before 6:00 A.M. Many of these airlines complained that taking off at later times would cause passengers to miss onward connecting flights. This, they said, would affect companies' bottom lines and would result in canceled flights and lost jobs.
The transport minister's media advisor said the foreign airlines had been given six months notice of the planned changes. These were meant to improve the quality of the environment and could not be put off any longer.