Major international airlines suspend flights to Israel amid war on Gaza

Israel aviation authority advises airlines still flying in its airspace to carry extra fuel as delays are to be expected.

Passengers wait at Ben Gurion Airport near Tel Aviv, Israel, on October 7, 2023, as flights are canceled because of the Hamas surprise attack. The conflict sparked major disruption at Tel Aviv airport, with American Airlines, Emirates, Lufthansa and Ryanair among carriers with cancelled flights. (Photo by GIL COHEN-MAGEN / AFP)
Passengers wait at Ben Gurion Airport near Tel Aviv, Israel, on October 7, 2023, as flights are canceled following the surprise attack by Hamas fighters [File: Gil Cohen-Magen/AFP]

Leading international airlines have suspended or reduced flights to Israel’s capital Tel Aviv amid the conflict with Hamas and escalating attacks on Gaza.

About half of all scheduled flights at the airport did not operate on Sunday and a third were cancelled as of Monday evening.

American Airlines, Air Canada, Air France, Delta Air Lines, Egypt Air, Emirates, Finland’s Finnair, Dutch carrier KLM, Germany’s Lufthansa, Norwegian Air, Portugal’s TAP, Polish carrier LOT, Ryanair and United Airlines were among those suspending or reducing flight to Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion airport.

Russia banned night flights to Israel and regulators including the US Federal Aviation Authority, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency and Israel’s aviation authority urged airlines to use caution in Israeli airspace but stopped short of suspending flights.

Russia said it had restricted flights from going to Israel before 09:00 GMT due to what it called an “unstable political and military situation” and advised airlines to continue to monitor risks during daylight hours.

Israel’s civil aviation authority said airlines should “review current security and threat information” and had changed some air traffic routes. The authority noted that delays should be expected and advised airlines flying to Israel to carry extra fuel as a precaution.

British Airways said it was planning to continue operating flights to Israel “over the coming days with adjusted departure times”.

Virgin Atlantic said it would continue to run some flights but that customers could rebook or request a refund on their tickets.

The United Kingdom’s easyJet halted flights to Tel Aviv on Sunday and Monday, and Hungarian budget carrier Wizz Air cancelled flights to and from Tel Aviv until further notice. Other airlines suspending flights included Aegean, Swiss and Austrian Airlines.

Airlines flying from China, Hong Kong and South Korea also cancelled flights to Tel Aviv.

Hong Kong’s main carrier, Cathay Pacific Airways, said that “in view of the latest situation in Israel”, it was cancelling its Tel Aviv flights scheduled for Tuesday and Thursday.

“The safety of our passengers and crew are our top priority. We will continue to monitor the situation very closely,” the airline said on its website, adding it would provide updates on the site.

Israel’s national carrier El Al said that it was maintaining its Tel Aviv flights for now, “in accordance with the instructions of the Israeli security forces”, with all flights now departing only from Terminal Three at Ben Gurion airport.

Source: News Agencies