State Told to Explain Night-time Takeoffs

The leaders of Rishon Letzion and Holon are not skulking off quietly into any jet-engine-shattered night. The High Court of Justice yesterday gave the state, represented by the attorney general, 10 days to respond to the cities' motion to ban night-time takeoffs from Ben-Gurion International Airport.

The state is pursuing the introduction of late-night takeoffs on behalf of the Airports Authority.

Municipal officials in Holon and Rishon Letzion fear that late-hour takeoffs will be approved in a matter of days - and not for safety reasons, as the state claims, but because of "convenience and financial considerations," TheMarker has learned.

The Airports Authority claimed that when one of the runways was closed down, on June 1, night-hour takeoffs would be essential for safety reasons. In fact, though, say lawyers representing Rishon Letzion and Holon, the late-late takeoffs were not introduced. They concluded that the issue at stake isn't safety.

The lawyers claim to be in possession of documents from the Airports Authority "proving beyond doubt that the statement the Airports Authority gave to the High Court was completely wrong, mistaken and misleading." The documents show that issues of convenience and of money, for the authority and for the airlines, are behind the night-time takeoffs, say the lawyers.

They stress that they do not mean to impede the renovation work at the airport, which is the reason for the recent runway closure, and that if night-time takeoffs prove to be genuinely necessary for reasons of safety grounds the cities will not object.