By Reuters and published by Swissinfo.ch
SEVERAL international air carriers have suspended or reined in flight services to or from Tel Aviv after a surprise attack by Hamas militants on Israel, saying they were waiting for safety conditions to improve.
Fighters from the Islamist group killed 700 Israelis and abducted dozens in Saturday’s attacks, the deadliest such incursion in decades, prompting Israel to retaliate by pounding the Palestinian enclave of Gaza.
Regulators including the United States’ Federal Aviation Administration, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency and Israel’s aviation authority urged airlines to use caution in the region’s airspace, but stopped short of suspending flights.
Israel’s civil aviation authority asked airlines to “review current security and threat information” amid the conflict, and changed some air traffic routes. It noted that delays were expected and advised airlines to carry extra fuel.
On Sunday, US air carriers United Airlines, Delta Air Lines and American Airlines suspended direct flights following the FAA’s caution advisories.
The US airlines normally run direct services from major cities such as New York, Chicago, Washington, DC and Miami.
United said it had run two scheduled flights to the United States from Israel late on Saturday and early on Sunday but then suspended services. Delta representatives said flights this week were cancelled and the situation was being monitored.
In Europe, Air France and Finland’s Finnair suspended direct flights.
Britain’s easyJet halted flights to Tel Aviv on Sunday and Monday, and said it would adjust the timings of flights over the next few days.
Hungarian budget carrier Wizz Air cancelled flights to and from Tel Aviv until further notice.
“Wizz Air is the most affected group with its operations accounting for some 9.4% of Israel’s total October capacity and … representing some 2.3% of the carrier’s total schedules,” Irish brokerage Goodbody said.
Lufthansa group, also among the airlines most exposed to Israel, according to Goodbody, cancelled flights to and from Tel Aviv through Monday.
Portugal’s TAP suspended flights up until Monday and offered refunds or rescheduling at no additional cost.
Virgin Atlantic said it would continue to run some flights but that customers could rebook or request a refund until Oct. 15.
Some airlines continued to fly to Israel.
Flight tracking site Flightradar24 listed upcoming Ben Gurion arrivals from airlines including Ryanair, flyDubai and national carrier El Al.
Israel’s airports authority said on its website Ben Gurion continued to handle arrivals and departures.
Hainan Airlines, the only Chinese airline to fly between China and Israel, cancelled flights between Tel Aviv and Shanghai on Monday.
It said it would continue flights linking Beijing and the southern tech hub of Shenzhen with Tel Aviv while waiving fees for cancellations before Oct. 20.
Cathay Pacific cancelled its flight between Hong Kong and Tel Aviv due on Tuesday and said it would provide further updates about the next flight on Thursday.
Korean Air cancelled its Monday flight between the port city of Incheon and Tel Aviv and warned future flights may be irregular.
Top: A person waves an Israeli flag as people demonstrate in response to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his nationalist coalition government’s judicial overhaul, at Ben Gurion International Airport in Lod, Israel on July 11, 2023. File photo: Reuters/Amir Cohen and published by Swissinfo.ch
Front Page: In this file photo made Jan. 21, 2010, a passenger walks past a Delta Airlines 747 aircraft in McNamara Terminal at Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport in Romulus, Mich. Major airlines are suspending flights to Israel after it formally declared war following a massive attack by Hamas. File photo: AP Photo/Paul Sancya and published by ABC News
(Reporting by Douglas Gillison, Sophie Yu, Farah Master, Joyce Lee and Brenda Goh, Tim Hepher, Ilona Wissenbach, Sergio Goncalves in Lisbon, Anna Ringstrom in Stockholm, Sarah Young and Joanna Plucinska in London; Editing by Clarence Fernandez and Bernadette Baum)