El Al to Restart U.S. Routes after Shavuos

The empty departure hall at Ben-Gurion Airport. (Yossi Zamir/ Flash90)


El Al said on Monday evening that the carrier will renew its flights to the United States after Shavuos, KAN reported.

Earlier in the day, the chief of Ben-Gurion Airport said Israel would not be able to resume commercial flights until mid-July – at the earliest – due to the coronavirus pandemic, Following the sharp decline in the number of new confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Israel, a number of foreign airlines announced plans to resume flights to Israel in June.

The airlines include Air Canada, Delta, British Airways, easyJet, Ryanair, Alitalia and Lufthansa.

Airport Director Shmuel Zakai said to Yisrael Hayom that even when the flights restart, the number of departing flights will remain low for the foreseeable future.

“Social distancing regulations at airports won’t allow us to increase passenger capacity,” said Zakai. “If we’ll keep up at this pace, we’ll see a few dozen flights departing from Ben-Gurion Airport starting mid-July and not earlier. As long as there is no vaccine for coronavirus and the disease keeps moving across countries, there will be no significant change.”

Health Ministry officials Professor Itamar Grotto and Professor Sigal Sadetzki came Monday morning to Ben-Gurion Airport to discuss the opening of the airport, as well as the abolition of restrictions from certain countries. A final decision on the issues is expected to be made in the coming days.

In addition, the Israel Airports Authority presented a plan to the Health Ministry’s senior officials outlining the best way to relaunch commercial flights. As part of the new procedures, all travelers will be subjected to temperature checks upon their arrival and will be required to wear face masks. Only those traveling will be allowed to enter the airport.

Hand sanitizer posts will be scattered across the airport’s premises and waiting areas will be marked to ensure travelers keep a safe distance from each other.

Zakai also noted that Israel and several other nations with low coronavirus infection rates, dubbed “green countries,” are examining a new model that would allow travel between the countries without a compulsory 14-day self-quarantine period for arrivals.

“It seems that whoever arrives from a ‘green country,’ whether Israeli or foreign, will not be required to self-isolate upon their arrival in Israel,” said Zakai.

The list of the green countries includes Greece, Cyprus, Seychelles, Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Montenegro and Iceland, among others.

Israel’s tourism industry has been severely crippled since the beginning of the virus outbreak in March, with hotel, restaurant and airline representatives pleading with the government to provide additional relief to their struggling industries and urging the government to ease the restrictions.

Updated Monday, May 25, 2020 at 2:06 pm updated elal