Ben Gurion Airport Halts Takeoffs Due to Pirate Radio Interference

No flights between 8 A.M. - 5 P.M. Thurs.; pirate radio causes disruptions in airport communication, endanger air traffic.

Israel Airports Authority Director General Gabi Ofir issued an order to halt all departures from Ben Gurion International Airport Wednesday evening due to the communications disruptions caused by pirate radio stations.

Ofir had earlier issued a temporary order to halt the flights, but several planes took off regardless of the order, with the Airports Authority's permission. Wednesday evening, Ofir re-issued the order, and no flights have taken off since.

The Israel Airports Authority workers' union threatened to strike Thursday and cancel all flights scheduled to arrive at and depart from Ben Gurion airport between 8 A.M. and 5 P.M. The staff called off the strike after they were convinced sincere efforts were being made by the authorities to resolve the issue.

Chairman of the Israel Airports Authority workers' union, Pinchas Idan, warned the flight supervisors that if they don not find a solution to the air traffic disruptions, the union will go on strike.

Police in the Dan region said that they received a complaint Tuesday from a Communications Ministry official regarding a pirate radio station operating out of Yehoshua Street in Bnei Brak. The complainant said the pirate radio station was disrupting communications and endangering air traffic.

Police officials, along with ministry representatives, arrived on Tuesday at the apartment in which a radio station is allegedly being operated illegally. The 53-year-old owner of the apartment was taken in for questioning, and later released on bail.

As a result of the order, six departures are expected to be canceled: a Lufthansa flight to Frankfurt, an El-Al flight to Barcelona and Madrid, an El-Al flight to Paris, an El-Al flight to Rome, a British Airways flight to London, and a Turkish Islands flight to Istanbul.