Airport Tightens Security Ahead of PA Statehood Bid

Representatives of foreign carriers are concerned that rising tensions could lead to cancellations, but there are no current signs of this occurring; Israel Hotels Association manager says September bookings 'slow'.

Security checks at Ben-Gurion International Airport have become more stringent this week, in preparation for possible unrest related to the Palestinian request for recognition as an independent state by the United Nations this weekend.

Representatives from foreign airlines that use Ben-Gurion said yesterday that the heightened security is palpable. They noted that incoming tour groups that had previously been spared security checks, by prior arrangement with authorities, were now subject to the full treatment, the sources said.

The Israel Airports Authority said in response that security inspections are carried out as necessary, based on directives from the relevant authorities.

Representatives of foreign carriers shared concerns that rising regional tensions could cause cancellations to and from Israel.

Ami Etgar, general manager of the Israel Incoming Tour Operators Association, said yesterday that neither Israelis leaving the country nor organized incoming tours have cancelled their travel plans. He said he isn't expecting any cancellations, as long as tensions don't escalate and there are no security incidents.

Shmuel Zurel, director general of the Israel Hotels Association, said local hotels aren't seeing last-minute cancellations related to the anticipated declaration of a Palestinian state. He noted, however, that "for months we've been noticing slow bookings for September." Some tours originally scheduled for this months had to cancel after failing to drum up enough people, Zurel said, but stressed that no group tours cancelled after their reservations were actually made.