TODAY’S – Airlines hat Tel Aviv flights for 2nd day

Airlines hat Tel Aviv flights for 2nd day Leading global carriers including Lufthansa, Turkish Airlines and Delta Airlines continued to suspend their flights into Israel on Wednesday, a day after air carriers in the United States and Europe on Tuesday halted flights to Tel Aviv as turmoil in Israel and the region intensified. Despite international peace efforts, Israel continued to pound targets across the Gaza Strip on Wednesday, saying no ceasefire was near as top US and UN diplomats pursued talks on halting fighting that has claimed more than 600 lives.

 Turkish Airlines said on its website on Wednesday that flights to Tel Aviv Ben Gurion Airport was “suspended for another 24 hours”, without giving further details. A Turkish Airlines plane flying from Istanbul to Tel Aviv turned back on Tuesday as the company halted flights there for 24 hours due to security reasons, company said.

Germany’s largest airline, Lufthansa, says it is cancelling all flights to Tel Aviv for at least another 24 hours because of ongoing safety concerns. Lufthansa said Wednesday that the decision applies also to its subsidiaries Germanwings, Austrian Airlines, Swiss and Brussels Airlines.

In all, 20 flights from Frankfurt, Berlin, Munich, Zurich, Vienna and Brussels are being cancelled.  Delta Air Lines will continue to suspend its flights into Israel on Wednesday, its chief executive said on CNBC.

“Today . we are not flying to Israel,” Delta CEO Richard Anderson said in an interview with CNBC.

Meanwhile, Polish state airline LOT also suspended its flights to Israel from Warsaw until Monday because of concern for passengers’ safety, the airline’s spokeswoman said on Wednesday. “This is caused by the tense situation in the region,” LOT added in a statement.

“The connection will be re-established as soon as possible and when we are sure that our operations are hundred percent safe.” Air carriers in the United States and Europe on Tuesday halted flights to Tel Aviv after warnings from governmental agencies in an effort to ensure passenger safety as turmoil in Israel and the region intensified.

US carriers Delta Air Lines, American Airlines Group and United Airlines were the first to announce cancellations until further notice, followed by flight stoppages by European carriers, including Germany’s Lufthansa and Air France.American Airlines said late on Tuesday that it would halt flights to and from Tel Aviv through Thursday while it monitors the situation.

Air Berlin, Germany’s second-largest carrier, also said it halted its flights through Wednesday, citing the situation on the ground. Throughout the day, several airlines rerouted or turned back flights already headed to Israel’s financial centerThe flight suspensions grabbed the attention of a global aviation community still grappling with the downing last week of a Malaysia Airlines jet over Ukraine with nearly 300 aboard.

“The carriers are making the right call,” said Robert Mann, an airline consultant in Port Washington, New York. “They are ultimately legally responsible for their operations and thus, they have to be at least as cautious and in many cases more cautious than any guideline that they are given.

“The FAA said it told US carriers that they were prohibited from flying to or from Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv for up to 24 hours. In a statement, the agency said its notice was issued in response to a rocket strike on Tuesday that landed about a mile from the airport.

The text of the FAA notice cited “the potentially hazardous situation created by the armed conflict in Israel and Gaza” in prohibiting the flights by US carriers. Israeli officials, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, called for US airlines to resume flights to Israel.

“There is no need for US carriers to suspend flights and reward terrorism,” said a statement from Israel’s Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz.The FAA notice was discussed in a call later on Tuesday between Secretary of State John Kerry and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the US State Department said.

“The only consideration in issuing the notice was the safety and security of our citizens,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a statement. “The FAA continues to monitor and evaluate the situation, and will issue updated guidelines no later than 24 hours from the time the (notice) went into force.

” Asked about reports that Netanyahu had asked the FAA to rescind the order, a senior Obama administration official said he was not aware of the request, but added: “We’re not going to overrule the FAA, period.” “If the FAA says this crosses our tripwires, we’re not going to say ‘Don’t warn civil aviation.

‘ We understand Israeli concerns. They don’t want to have a shutdown of air traffic into Ben Gurion.

We can look at this every 24 hours, but (when) a rocket lands a mile from that airport, that kind of trips their wire.” Meanwhile, former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg urged the US Federal Aviation Administration to “reverse course” and permit US airlines to fly to Israel.

  Bloomberg said he is flying on El Al to Tel Aviv on Tuesday night to “show solidarity with the Israeli people and to demonstrate that it is safe to fly in and out of Israel.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman