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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Airlines Halt Flights to Israel Following Rocket Strike

Woodrow Bellamy III 

[Aviation Today July 22, 2014] Major airlines around the world canceled flights to Israel Tuesday due to safety concerns after a rocket strike landed one mile from Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv. The FAA issued a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) prohibiting U.S. airlines from flying to or from Israel. Althought the NOTAM only applies to U.S. airlines, most European airlines, including Air France, Air Berlin, KLM, Lufthansa and Scandinavian all canceled flights to the region as well.  

According to the NOTAM, the agency believes the security of air transport aircraft flying in the region are endangered due to the "potentially hazardous situation created by the armed conflict in Israel and Gaza."
The Lufthansa Group suspended flights by Lufthansa, Germanwings, Austrian Airlines and Swiss for the next 36 hours. Depending on the weekday, the German carrier operates anywhere from seven to 10 scheduled flights to Tel Aviv from Frankfurt, Berlin, Munich, Zurich and Vienna. 
Operations continued at Ben Gurion Airport Tuesday, despite the cancellations, with the airport's website showing flights landing from Easyjet, El Al Israel and Corendon Airlines among others. 
The FAA has stated that it will evaluate the situation, providing updates as they become available, however the ban on flying to Tel Aviv is only in effect for 24 hours."Updated instructions will be provided to U.S. airlines as soon as conditions permit, but no later than 24 hours from the time the NOTAM went into force," the agency said. 

This is the second major NOTAM prohibiting U.S. airlines from flying through foreign airspace in less than a week, following the recent advisory banning American aircraft from flying into Ukrainian airspace after a Malaysian Airlines 777 was shot down by an air defense missile in the region.  

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