Airlines, FAA respond to Mideast turmoil

US Airways has canceled its daily flight to Tel Aviv because of the combat between Israeli forces and Hamas fighters in Gaza.
US Airways has canceled its daily flight to Tel Aviv because of the combat between Israeli forces and Hamas fighters in Gaza.
Posted: July 24, 2014

US Airways canceled Tuesday's daily nonstop flights between Tel Aviv, Israel, and Philadelphia because of the conflict between the Israeli military and Hamas fighters in Gaza.

Other U.S., European, and Canadian airlines suspended flights amid heightened concerns after a Malaysia Airlines jet was shot down last week over Ukraine, killing all 298 on board.

The Federal Aviation Administration banned U.S. airlines Tuesday from flying to and from Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion International Airport for at least 24 hours, citing a rocket fired from Gaza that landed near the airport in Tel Aviv.

Delta Air Lines canceled all flights to Israel "until further notice." Delta said it had rerouted a Tel Aviv-bound flight to Paris after reports of "a rocket or associated debris" near Ben Gurion airport.

"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 U.S. operators are prohibited until further advised," the FAA said.

The ban will be updated within 24 hours.

United also suspended its Tel Aviv operations.

"The notice was issued in response to a rocket strike, which landed approximately one mile from Ben Gurion International Airport on the morning of July 22," the FAA said in a statement.

The advisory applied only to U.S. airlines. The FAA has no authority over foreign carriers.

European airlines Air France, Lufthansa, and KLM Royal Dutch suspended Tel Aviv service. Air Canada also canceled its flight from Toronto to Tel Aviv.

US Airways, now part of American Airlines Group Inc. and the dominant carrier at Philadelphia International Airport, flies daily to Tel Aviv from Philadelphia at 9:10 p.m. The Tel Aviv-to-Philadelphia flight leaves Israel nightly at 11:30.

"The safety of our passengers and crew is American's top priority," US Airways and American said in a statement. "We have canceled US Airways Flight 797 from Tel Aviv to Philadelphia, and Flight 796 from Philadelphia to Tel Aviv for July 22, in response to security concerns at Tel Aviv. We are reaching out to customers and working with other airlines to reaccommodate those affected.

"For customers with future travel plans to Tel Aviv, we have extended our travel advisory and our flexible ticketing policy through Aug. 31," the airline said. "Customers who choose to change their travel plans can do so without change fees."

American said that flight crew members were ferried out of Tel Aviv on Tuesday but that the FAA would not let customers on the flight.

El Al Airlines, the flag carrier of Israel, is maintaining its regular flight schedule, said Sheryl Stein, an airline spokeswoman.

El Al operates up to five flights a day from the United States to Israel from Los Angeles; Newark, N.J.; and New York's John F. Kennedy airport.


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