Airlines suspend flights to Israel over safety fears after airport rocket attack
ISRAEL’S TRANSPORT Minister Israel Katz has ordered the opening of a second airport near Eilat after American and European airlines suspended flights to Ben Gurion International over safety fears.
Uvda airport, north of Eilat, was readied to receive flights on Wednesday in a bid to ease the concerns of airlines.
The US Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) had issued a blanket 24-hour ban on all US carriers after a Hamas rocket attack near Ben Gurion. Several European airlines, including British budget carrier easyJet followed suit. The ban was extended for a further 24-hours with the FAA saying it would review the situation
Mr Katz said that authority had “handed terror a prize”.
Speaking on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme on Wednesday, Rafi Ron, former director of security at Ben Gurion airport, said aviation authorities were wrongly equating the far more dangerous situation in Ukraine with what was happening in Israel.
“In Ukraine the threat to aviation is real as people have actually been downing aircraft over the last two weeks. In Israel we have a group of people using extremely unsophisticated weapons,” he said.
The FAA’s equivalent in Europe, the European Aviation Safety Agency, said that it was up to national aviation authorities to decide whether their airlines should fly to Israel.
EasyJet said it would review operations on a day-by-day basis. British Airways has maintained normal service to Tel Aviv.