Haifa, T.A. Domestic Airports Suspend Plans Halt Weekend Civil Aviation

Closure was to follow IAF Chief Rabbi's orders to military air traffic controllers not to direct civilian traffic on Shabbat.

Domestic airports on Thursday decided to suspend their plans to shut down civil aviation over the weekends.

The Haifa and Sde Dov airports were to begin halting all civil aviation service on weekends and holidays starting March 1, according to a letter sent Wednesday from the Sde Dov director to commercial airlines and private pilots.

Following publication of Haaretz's report earlier Thursday, the director of the Haifa Airport sent a letter of correction saying that the matter was currently under discussion and plans were suspended pending further notice.

Once the plans had been announced, Israel Association of General Aviation Chairman Yaron Efrat wrote a letter in response to Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz, demanding he intervene immediately.

Both military airports, Sde Dov and Haifa airport also serve domestic civil aviation routes.

The chief IAF rabbi is behind the planned closures, refusing to allow military air traffic controllers to direct civilian traffic on Shabbat and holidays.

Should the closures be implemented, they would affect passengers on Israir and Arkia's domestic flights, as well as private planes and recreational aviation, which takes place primarily on weekends.