State to Allow Foreign Night Flights During the Summer

If you live near the airport, better get your sleep in before the summer starts: The Israel Airports Authority will allow foreign airlines to operate charter flights at Ben-Gurion Airport anytime during the night, except between 2 A.M and 4 A.M., throughout the summer.

At present, the airport is closed between 1:40 A.M. and 5:50 A.M. during the winter and until 4:50 A.M. in the summer.

Even though the High Court of Justice ruled last Wednesday that the airport must be closed during those hours, the IAA said the court has allowed it to grant special approval in cases of operational requirements.

According to the IAA, the High Court allowed for flexibility in operations and scheduling at both ends of the allotted time period, and the new schedules are the same as those the IAA permitted before the Holon municipality took the issue to court.

Last week, the High Court ruled to halt late night flights at Ben-Gurion, accepting a petition from the Holon municipality over excessive noise caused by landings and takeoffs in the middle of the night. The airport was opened for such flights for a period of three years, which began in June 2010, while certain runways are being renovated.

The lawyers for the city of Holon said the court ruling banned all such flights between 1:40 A.M. and 5:50 A.M. in the winter, or 4:50 A.M. in the summer. Night flights are only allowed if the flight was originally scheduled for a time slot in allowable hours, but this timeline could not be met; or if the airline was offered an alternative slot within the allowed hours, and this still could not be met. Only in special cases can this time be shifted to just after 1:40 A.M. or before 5:50 A.M..

According to Holon's lawyers, under no circumstances does the court ruling allow for a takeoff or landing time to be set during that period, but permission may be granted in exceptional cases when a scheduled flight would have to be canceled if it was not allowed to fly during the late night hours - but in any case, still never between 2 A.M. and 4 A.M.

The flights involved are mostly foreign charters to nearby Mediterranean destinations, such as Turkey and Italy.