Israeli Conflict Prompts Flight Cancellations and Re-routings

 - May 13, 2021, 1:02 PM
An El Al Boeing 777-200 takes off from Los Angeles International Airport in October 2021. El Al flights continue to land and depart at Tel Aviv Ben Gurion Aiport while most other international carriers have suspended service due to the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas. (Photo: Flickr: Creative Commons (BY-SA) by BriYYZ)

Several European and North American airlines have canceled flights to Israel in response to the escalating conflict in the country, while Israeli authorities have decided to halt the landing of international passenger flights at its main airport, Tel Aviv Ben Gurion. “Due to the security situation, the authorities have instructed that a change may be required at the airport and flights entering Israel will be required to land at Ramon Airport,” El Al noted in a statement. 

Ramon International Airport (ETM), the country’s second-busiest airport, opened in February 2019 and lies near Israel’s southernmost city of Eilat. Passengers will undergo passport checks and a PCR Covid-19 test at ETM and the Israel Airport Authority will arrange transfer by bus to Ben Gurion, according to the statement.

Flights operated by El Al continued to depart and land at Ben Gurion on Thursday, although the departure time of several flights advanced due to the ongoing security situation and in accordance with the guidelines of the authorities.

Ben Gurion also continued to handle cargo and private aviation flights as part of the authorities’ decision to spread the traffic over the two airports, Reuters reported.

The carriers that have canceled flights to Israel include Air Canada, American Airlines, Austrian Airlines, British Airways, Delta Air Lines, Iberia, KLM, Lufthansa, Ryanair, and United Airlines. 

The EU Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) on Wednesday afternoon issued an advisory calling on air carriers operating within Israeli airspace and to or from Ben Gurion International Airport in particular to closely monitor the heightened tensions in Israel, including exchange of rocket fire and retaliatory airstrikes, and adapt their operations according to Israeli authorities’ aeronautical publications.

“The situation in the region remains a matter of high concern for commercial aviation. It is recommended to exercise caution by taking into account any relevant information, alongside available guidance or directions from your national authorities as appropriate,” the EASA advisory noted. “Several Notams are already in place for FIR Tel Aviv (LLLL) and its commercial aerodromes rerouting civilian aviation flight paths as necessary to ensure safety and security of the air operations. Due to the unstable regional situation, these publications may be more restrictive within short notice.”