Coronavirus in Israel: Lufthansa Freezes Flights to Tel Aviv

German carrier and its Swiss and Austrian subsidiaries cancel flights for three weeks from Sunday over coronavirus

Lufthansa airplanes are seen parked on the tarmac during a strike of cabin crew union (UFO) at Frankfurt airport, Germany November 7, 2019.
Ralph Orlowski/ REUTERS

Lufthansa and its Swiss International Air Lines and Austrian Airline subsidiaries will suspend service to Israel for three weeks starting Sunday, citing an Israeli government directive quarantining arrivals from many European countries.

“The extended refusal of entry of the Israeli authorities, which apply from March 6, among others also for travelers from Germany, Switzerland and Austria, will lead to a considerable drop in demand for flights to Israel,” the German airline said Thursday. “The Lufthansa Group sees itself forced to make this cancellation for economic and operational reasons, as many passengers are no longer entitled to enter the country.”

The decision came after the Health Ministry imposed a 14-day quarantine on everyone flying from those countries, both returning Israelis and foreigners, due to the propagation of the novel coronavirus COVID-19. The Foreign Ministry has recommended that Israelis not travel to Italy, France, Germany, Switzerland, Spain and Austria.

Lufthansa also said Thursday it was canceling about 7,100 flights up to the end of March due to lower demand and the spread of coronavirus. The group added it would reduce capacity by up to 25%.

Regarding Israel, the carrier said some flights to Tel Aviv this Friday and Saturday had already been canceled due to operational reasons. The airlines together offer 10 daily flights to Tel Aviv, and Lufthansa has one scheduled weekly flight to Eilat and back.

People wearing protective masks at Ben Gurion Airport, February 22, 2020
Bea Bar Kallos

In addition, the low-cost carrier Wizz Air said Thursday that due to the Health Ministry order it was canceling some flights on its Vienna-Tel Aviv and Vienna-Eilat routes. The carrier urged fliers to carefully check the updated schedule before flying to Israel.

Customers who have already ordered tickers directly from the airline are entitled to reschedule at no charge or get a full refund. Those reserving through a travel agent should be in touch with the agency, Wizz Air said.