FAA bans U.S. airlines from Israel over rocket threat
USA Today | July 22, 2014
The Federal Aviation Administration suspended U.S. flights Tuesday to Israel's main airport in Tel Aviv after a missile fell within a mile of the airport.
The agency will decide by noon Wednesday whether to extend the 24-hour prohibition against U.S. flights to Ben-Gurion International Airport because of hostilities between Israel and Gaza.
"The FAA will continue to monitor and evaluate the situation," the agency said in a statement.
The decision came days after Malaysia Airlines flight 17 was shot down Thursday, killing 298 people, during military action between Ukraine and pro-Russian separatists.
Three hours after the FAA action, the European Aviation Safety Agency strongly recommended airlines refrain from flying to and from Tel Aviv. Airlines worldwide suspended flights, threatening Israel's tourism industry.
Israel gets more visitors from the United States than any other country. Of 3.5 million visitors last year, 623,000 were Americans, according to Israel's Ministry of Tourism.
Israel's Transportation Ministry called on the companies to reverse their decision, insisting the Ben-Gurion Airport is safe and completely guarded and saying there is no reason to "hand terror a prize," by halting the flights.
Even before the FAA regulatory order, Delta Air Lines, United and US Airways had suspended flights to Israel indefinitely. Delta Flight 468 from New York's JFK airport, a Boeing 747 with 273 passengers and 17 crew members, diverted to Paris on Tuesday after reports of a rocket near Tel Aviv and suspended all its flights indefinitely.
US Airways also canceled a flight to Israel Tuesday. Flight 796, which began in Los Angeles, was canceled in Philadelphia before leaving for Tel Aviv.
United Airlines canceled flights 84 and 90 from Newark to Tel Aviv.
"We are suspending operations to/from Tel Aviv until further notice," United spokeswoman Jennifer Dohm said. "We are working with government officials to ensure the safety of our customers and our employees and will continue to evaluate the situation."
Airlines worldwide followed suit after the FAA order. Air Canada announced it canceled an evening flight from Toronto to Tel Aviv, and it's return flight, and that the airline would "continue to evaluate going forward."
Labels: Man-made Disasters