El Al to Stranded Israelis: Use Overland Routes to Reach Open Airports

Disruptions in flights to and from Europe caused by the cloud of volcanic ash flowing from Iceland worsened over the weekend, spreading from northern and western Europe to the south and the east - to airports in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Poland, the Czech Republic, northern Italy and Lithuania.

As a result, flights from Israel to those countries were canceled yesterday and Friday, in addition to flights canceled to Britain, France, Belgium and Holland, where airports were shut down on Thursday.

El Al CEO Eliezer Shkedy called on Israeli travelers stuck in Europe to take overland transportation to airports that remain open in Rome, Athens, Madrid and Barcelona, and said the company could get them home by Independence Day.

Yesterday in Europe, only about 6,000 of 22,000 scheduled flights took off, mainly to destinations in the southern part of the continent. Only 120 trans-Atlantic flights, a third of the usual number, took off from Europe.

Sun D'Or, an El Al subsidiary, canceled seven flights that were to have taken off yesterday from Ben-Gurion International Airport.

Sun D'Or CEO Bezalel Karvat said flights had been canceled to Verona, Moscow, Dusseldorf, Frankfort, Geneva, Katowice and Lodz. The only Sun D'Or flight that took off yesterday flew to Malaga.

El Al's scheduled Friday flights to London, Paris, Brussels and Amsterdam were all canceled, as were its flights yesterday to Berlin and Warsaw. Arkia Airlines canceled its charter flights yesterday from Ben-Gurion to Munich, along with today's flight to Paris.

Flights to and from Israel were canceled yesterday by British Airways, Lufthansa, Swiss International Airlines, Austrian Airlines, Brussels Airlines, Air France and KLM.

Heads of foreign airlines in Israel told Haaretz they believed it would be at least a few days until flight schedules would return to normal.

London's Chabad House director told Haaretz that some 120 stranded Israelis signed up for Shabbat dinner at the Chabad House.