El Al Flights to Istanbul, Larnaca Suspended

General Security Service limitations on El Al flights to Turkey and Cyprus have made them economically unviable to operate, and will lead to the closure of regular flights to Istanbul and Larnaca starting in March, TheMarker has learned.

Turkish Airlines and Cyprus Airlines freely operate regular, scheduled flights to and from Istanbul and Larnaca. However, the GSS has placed restrictions on El Al flights to the two cities due to concerns of terrorist attacks on the planes.

El Al operates three weekly flights, in the afternoon and evening, to both Larnaca and Istanbul, but travelers to these destinations prefer flying during the day. As a result, while the foreign airlines operate near-daily flights during daytime hours that are close to full capacity, the number of passengers on El Al flights is low.

"Stopping flights to these destinations is part of El Al's business reorganization, in which the company will focus on destinations that enjoy long-term, high demand, and will strengthen its presence on developing flight routes, which are profitable to the company," El Al said. The airline added that flights to Larnaca and Istanbul do not meet such criteria and suffer from heavy costs due to the stringent security considerations.