Large Swaths of Israel's Airspace Closed Due to Military Drill

Entirety of the south of Israel closed to all domestic and international air traffic; flights redirected to Jordanian border due to operations.

Zohar Blumenkrantz
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Zohar Blumenkrantz

All of Israel's southern airspace has been closed to non-military air traffic for two days, due to a large-scale drill being conducted by the Israel Air Force since Monday.

Dozens of jet fighters and air-to-air refueling craft took part in the drill, prompting the temporary closure.

Commercial carriers have been instructed to redirect their domestic flights to and from Eilat to an alternative route: Aircraft were to fly west toward Amman, then south along the Jordanian border until they neared Aqaba, before proceeding along their usual routes. Flights to and from the Far East that regularly fly over Eilat were also to use this route.

Civilian air-traffic restrictions were to last a total of 36 hours, and were to affect commercial operators such as Arkia, Israir and El Al, which operate regular routes from Tel Aviv to Eilat and back. It also affected the operations of private and recreational flights.

International carriers were notified of the restrictions.

According to statistics provided by the Israel Airports Authority, the number of flights between Eilat and Tel Aviv totaled 1,226 this September - down 18 percent from last September. From the year's start, 13,536 flights were made on the route - down 2.8 percent from the same period in 2012.

Israeli Air Force F16i jets.
Israeli Air Force F16i jets. Credit: IDF Spokesman's Office