European Airlines Begin Lifting Flight Bans on Israel

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Passengers wait at Ben-Gurion Airport as flights are delayed July 23, 2014.Credit: Tomer Appelbaum

REUTERS - Air France said on Friday it would resume flights to Tel Aviv later in the day, the latest major airline to lift a ban on flights to Israel imposed earlier in the week over security concerns.

The airline suspended flights to Tel Aviv on Tuesday after a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip landed near Ben-Gurion International Airport, Israel's main hub.

Germany's Lufthansa said it would resume flights to Israel's Tel Aviv airport on Saturday.

"On the basis of the most up-to-date information we have available and our own assessment of the local security situation, the airlines of the Lufthansa Group will resume their flights from and to Ben-Gurion International Airport," the airline said on Friday.

Lufthansa Group also operates Germanwings, Austrian Airlines and Swiss.

Meanwhile, El Al will continue to aid stranded Israelis in Turkey over the weekend, with five extra flights flying from Athens to Ben-Gurion.

Although El Al's policy is not to fly on Shabbat, the company explained that the flights will be coded under Israir and booked through the Sundor company.

Earlier this week the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) lifted a ban on flights by U.S. airlines to Ben-Gurion.

Israel had criticized the FAA decision, saying the airport was safe.

The FAA had imposed the ban in response to a Palestinian rocket that struck a building 2 km (1 mile) from the airport. Israel said the damage was debris from a mid-air rocket interception by its Iron Dome missile defense system.

Palestinian militants have fired hundreds of rockets into Israel's heartland during two weeks of conflict, but Israeli authorities have emphasised the success of the Iron Dome in protecting Ben-Gurion, as well as a precautionary narrowing of air corridors.  

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