El Al Balks at New Landing Procedures in Eilat, Cancels Some Flights

YERUSHALAYIM -

El Al announced on Tuesday a decision to curtail flights to Eilat due to safety considerations, according to media reports.

The move came in response to Civil Aviation Authority notification that it was mandating changes in the flight route and landing procedures in Eilat.

El Al was concerned that the changes would pose safety issues for its Boeing 737s, the planes used for the flights to Eilat. The Boeing 737 fleet manager flew to Amsterdam to conduct a special simulation of the new landing procedures. An El Al captain also conducted a test flight on the new path.

The company said its findings “leave no doubt about the risks inherent in the framework presented by the Civil Aviation Authority.”

El Al CEO Eliezer Shkedi asked Giora Romm, director of the Civil Aviation Authority, to rescind the changes, or to open the Ovda Airport to El Al planes. Until the authority responds, El Al intends to cancel two daily flights to Eilat. The airline’s two night flights to Eilat will continue as scheduled.

El Al is, however, exploring the possibility of flying its jets to Ovda Airport, about 40 miles north of Eilat, instead — which would enable all the daily flights to resume.

Notwithstanding El Al’s concerns, Arkia Airlines and Israir Airlines have both accepted the new flight path at Eilat and said their flights will continue on schedule, Globes reported.