Foreign Airlines Still Staying Clear of Israel as FAA Extends Ban

U.S. and European airlines will avoid Ben Gurion International Airport for at least another day out of concern for rockets fired from Gaza.

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Conflict areas banned to American aircraft by the FAA.
Conflict areas banned to American aircraft by the FAA.Credit: Haaretz

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration extended its ban on all flights to Ben Gurion Airport for an additional 24 hours on Wednesday evening.

The ban was imposed on Tuesday, following a rocket hit on a house in Yehud, not far from the airport perimeter.

"The agency is working closely with the Government of Israel to review the significant new information they have provided and determine whether potential risks to U.S. civil aviation are mitigated so the agency can resolve concerns as quickly as possible," the FAA said in a statement.

The FAA ban, along with a "strong recommendation" to the same effect by the European Aviation Safety Agency and the decisions by a large number of major international airlines to avoid Israel for the time being, has been a potent economic and psychological blow to Israel.

In response, Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz announced on Wednesday that Israel would open the Ovda Airport in the Negev as an alternative to Ben-Gurion Airport.

No airline that operates at Ben-Gurion Airport has given its approval or agreement to move its flights to Ovda Airport as yet.

Also on Wednesday, Air Canada announced that its daily scheduled flight to Tel Aviv from Toronto would be canceled for another day. A spokesman said that the company was continuing to evaluate the situation.

Lufthansa also extended its flight suspension on Wednesday for an additional 24 hours. The decision also applies to Germanwings, Austrian Airlines, Swiss and Brussels Airlines.

"At the present time no adequate authoritative new information is available that would justify a resumption of flights. In close coordination with the responsible authorities Lufthansa is continually evaluating the safety situation for its total flight network," the company said.

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