Foreign Airlines Say They Can't Use Jetways in Summer

The heavy load of summer flights at Ben-Gurion International Airport is evident in the quality of service travelers are receiving. Due to the large projected increase in airplane traffic in and out of Israel in July and August, fewer and fewer foreign airlines' planes are able to connect to jetways at the new terminal due to a lack of space.

Executives of the foreign airlines have complained that, in practice, this adversely affects service to passengers, who are forced to board and disembark from their flights on the tarmac and travel to the terminal in buses.

According to those executives, "The phenomenon is worsening and already encompasses a large portion of the foreign airlines, particularly at peak take-off and landing times. It is expected to worsen over the peak summer period, and will be worse than last year, due to growth in flight traffic in the July-August period."

According to Israel Airports Authority figures, almost 13,000 flights will take off and land at Ben-Gurion during the summer, carrying 2.25 million passengers - a 10-percent increase over last year. Five specific dates are already expected to break a record of more than 50,000 travelers a day, and on 19 dates, IAA projects more than 40,000 passengers to go through the airport.

IAA stated in response, "The statements are not true and indicate a lack of understanding of the mix of use of the passenger bridges and the open tarmac parking spaces. Most companies receive high-quality service and park at jetways. There is no connection between complaints from executives of the foreign airlines that the heavy flight schedule impacts use of jetways, which is predetermined. No more than 6 to 16 percent of airplanes at Ben-Gurion are forced to park on the tarmac, for a variety of reasons, including late arrivals, which cannot delay the next scheduled user of a given jetway."