El Al Cancels Day Flights to Eilat, Citing Risks

Airline cancels day flights until further notice, saying new flight path and landing guidelines pose risks to Boeing 737s.

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El Al on Tuesday announced it would be canceling half of its daytime flights to Eilat, citing changes in the flight path and landing procedures that it says pose risks to its planes. The cancellations are in effect until further notice.

El Al is also looking into the possibility of flying its jets to Ovda Airport, located about 60 kilometers north of Eilat, instead – in which case all the daytime flights would resume.

The airline conducted various tests and trials after the Civil Aviation Authority notified it of changes in the flight route and landing procedures. El Al was concerned that the changes would not be safe for its fleet of Boeing 737s, the planes used for the day flights to Eilat.

The Boeing 737 fleet manager traveled to Amsterdam to conduct a special training session that simulated the new landing guidelines. An El Al captain also conducted a test flight on the new path. The company said its findings "leave no doubt about the risks inherent in the framework presented by the Civil Aviation Authority."

El Al CEO Eliezer Shkedi asked Giora Romm, director of the Civil Aviation Authority, to rescind the changes, or to open the Ovda Airport to El Al planes. Until the authority responds, El Al intends to cancel two daytime flights to Eilat. The airline's two night flights to Eilat will continue as scheduled - because the changes in route do not apply at night.

Travelers who have bought tickets for day flights to Eilat can either exchange them for a night flight or get a refund and take buses provided by the airline from Ben-Gurion International Airport to the southern port city. Israir Airlines and Arkia will continue to fly to Eilat as scheduled.

The resort city of Eilat.Credit: Eliyahu Hershkovitz

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