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Several airlines suspend flights to Israel

Number of airlines from US and Europe scrap flights to Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion airport citing safety concerns.

Last updated: 22 Jul 2014 21:06
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Airlines cancel flights to Israel after rocket falls near Tel Aviv airport. [EPA]

Major US, European and Canadian airlines have cancelled flights to and from Israel after a rocket fired from Gaza struck near its main international airport in Tel Aviv.

In the United States, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) banned US airlines from Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion International Airport for at least 24 hours, citing the ongoing crisis in Gaza.

"Due to the potentially hazardous situation created by the armed conflict in Israel and Gaza, all flight operations to/from Ben Gurion International Airport by US operators are prohibited until further advised," said the FAA's Notice to Airmen, or NOTAM, issued shortly after 1600 GMT.

"This NOTAM will be updated within 24 hours," it added.

In a press statement, the FAA said it had immediately notified US carriers when it learned of the rocket strike.

Delta, US Airways and United Airlines heeded the order.

The European Aviation Safety Agency says it "strongly recommends" that airlines refrain from operating flights to and from Tel Aviv.

European airlines including Lufthansa, Air France and Alitalia and KLM said they had already suspended all flights to Tel Aviv over safety concerns. Canada's largest airline has also canceled a flight to Israel.

But Israel said there was no reason to cancel flights.

The Civil Aviation Authority said in a statement that Transport Minister Yisrael Katz this evening called American companies to explain to them that the take-off and landing at Ben Gurion airport presented no security problem for the aircraft and the passengers.

British Airways and its low-cost rival EasyJet, however, maintained their flights.

"We continue to operate as normal," a British Airways spokesman said.

"Safety and security are our highest priorities and we continue to monitor the situation closely."

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