Ban Lifted, but Three Airlines Still Refuse to Fly to Israel

Korean Air retracts decision to resume flights between Tel Aviv and Seoul.

Bloomberg

Three carriers serving Ben-Gurion International Airport – Korean Air, Royal Jordanian Airlines and Air Sinai, an Egyptian airline – have still not resumed their service to and from Israel after a number of airlines suspended service last week due to security concerns.

Korean Air said on Wednesday it had reconsidered an earlier decision to resume its service to Israel on Saturday of this week, and would be delaying restarting flights on its route between Tel Aviv and the South Korean capital, Seoul, until August 14. A representative of Royal Jordanian said the carrier’s decision to temporarily halt service to Israel was the result of insurance issues and not a political decision.

Daniel Seidenman, who heads Turbo Tourism and Aviation, Korean Air’s representative in Israel, told TheMarker that his company had earlier been advised to gear up for a resumption of flights next Saturday, but the decision was then reconsidered in Seoul. The South Korean airline normally operates three flights a week in each direction between Israel and Seoul, in addition to cargo flights. Zeidenman said his company is currently trying to book passengers with reservations on the upcoming flights on other airlines, notably on El Al’s routes to the Far East or on other carriers via Europe.

The suspension of Korean Air’s Israel service was instituted as of July 19, before the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration ordered a temporary halt by American carriers to and from Israel. The FAA, which lifted the ban after a day and a half, took the measure after a rocket fired from Gaza landed in Yehud, a community north of Ben-Gurion Airport. European aviation officials followed suit with their own recommendation that European carriers temporary halt service here, but some European airlines continued to fly uninterruptedly. Most airlines from around the world that had suspended service began resuming it at the end of last week.

Israeli officials maintained that security at the airport was never compromised by the rocket fire from the Gaza Strip. The success of the country’s Iron Dome rocket interception system in intercepting almost all rockets fired at populated areas of Israel, except for those near Gaza, has been cited as one level of security provided at the airport. Other steps include a change in flight paths into the airport. The incident involving the rocket that fell in Yehud has been attributed to a faulty decision on the part of a relatively low ranking military officer operating Iron Dome.

The manager of Royal Jordanian’s operations in Israel, Dvora Bruchstein, said her carrier has been making arrangements to accommodate travelers to and from Israel on Arkia Airlines’ Amman service, where passengers could then connect to and from Royal Jordanian flights to other destinations.