Foreign Airlines Cancel Israel Flights; Some Flights Diverted to Ramon Airport

YERUSHALAYIM -
Travellers seen at the departure hall of Ben Gurion Airport (Moshe Shai/Flash90)

United Airlines, Delta Air Lines and American Airlines, British Airways, Virgin Atlantic and Iberia all cancelled flights to Tel Aviv in avoiding flying to Israel amid the ongoing rocket fire.

“The safety and security of our colleagues and customers is always our top priority, and we continue to monitor the situation closely,” British Airways said after cancelling its flights to and from Tel Aviv on Thursday.

U.K.-based Virgin Atlantic cancelled a flight there late on Wednesday and said it was reviewing whether to operate its Thursday evening flight.

Spanish airline Iberia also cancelled its Tel Aviv flights on Thursday and Friday, a spokeswoman said, adding the airline will make a decision on future flights based on the evolution of the situation.

United Airlines, Delta Air Lines and American Airlines on Wednesday all cancelled flights between the United States and Tel Aviv.

Virgin Atlantic had said earlier this week that bookings to Israel had soared 250% week on week after an announcement by Britain that Israel was on its “green list” for the reopening of overseas leisure travel during the COVID-19 pandemic.

But an explosion of violence, with fighting in Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip causing mounting civilian deaths, have made international airlines wary of the region.

British airline easyJet said that it was not yet cancelling its flights to Tel Aviv. Its next flight there is from Berlin and not scheduled until May 16, with a service from London Luton to Tel Aviv scheduled for May 18.

Ben-Gurion Airport also began rerouting some inbound flights to Ramon International Airport in southern Israel. Departing flights will still take off from Ben-Gurion Airport.

El Al said on Wednesday that it stood ready to operate extra flights as required “to keep Israel’s skies open.” This could include special flights to repatriate Israelis stranded “in locations from which it is not possible to return home,” it said in a statement.