Wednesday, July 23, 2014

23-Jul-14: Clipped wings and foreign policy [UPDATE]

Ben Gurion Airport arrivals hall on better days
The US Federal Aviation Administration announced in the past hour (Wednesday midday) that U.S. carriers remain banned from flying to and from Tel Aviv for at least another day. They declined to lift Tuesday's suspension of flights between Israel and the US. That decision prohibited US carriers from flying to or from Ben-Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv for up to 24 hours, by reason of "the potentially hazardous situation created by the armed conflict in Israel and Gaza."

Two US airlines - Delta and American - were reported earlier in the day to have independently decided to extend their suspension of flights beyond the initial 24 hours announced Tuesday. The Wall Street Journal, in a story posted at noon, Eastern time, today, says the suspension now remains in effect for the rest of today.

Delta's chief executive is quoted saying its decision yesterday
to divert its Tel Aviv-bound flight to Paris on Tuesday was made independent of the Federal Aviation Administration's later 24-hour ban on U.S. flights to that airport. A rocket strike occurred quite close to the Ben Gurion Airport, so Delta proactively diverted its Boeing 747 to Paris, the company said. In light of the FAA's notice Tuesday, Mr. Anderson said Delta also will refrain from restarting flights Wednesday. Even if the FAA lifts the ban... Delta may decide not to go back in, depending on the circumstances and the private information it receives from governments around the world and the U.S. government. "We have an obligation to make our own risk assessments," he said... Delta also has a "very dynamic process" to assess which routes to fly internationally." [WSJ]
How dynamic? It appears Delta has its own "no fly zones" over such places as Syria, Iran, Iraq, Ukraine and Afghanistan. Notwithstanding, Delta flights were still flying over Iraq and Syria en route to Dubai recently (says WSJ) and might still be. Its Amsterdam-Mumbai flights often fly over Ukraine. Asked about these seeming anomalies, Delta's CEO said today that his airline
"makes those kinds of changes regularly" in its 24-hour operations center. "Just like yesterday morning we decided to turn the Tel Aviv flight around because of the rocket," he said. [WSJ]
At American, they are say today
"If the FAA approves, we plan to resume service" on Thursday... "We remain in contract with the FAA and continue to monitor the situation."
Other airlines:
  • At least 22 non-Israeli airlines are maintaining their scheduled flights. They include British Airways, Aeroflot and Ukrainian Airlines. Overall Ben-Gurion Airport expects 209 flights today [USA Today]
  • From checking, we think these airlines (among others) seem to be still operating their Israel flights: Alitalia, Iberia, Aegean, Czech, British Airways 
  • LOT, from Poland, said it was cancelling all flights from today until Monday. "This is caused by the tense situation in the region," they said in a published statement.
  • Lufthansa and its affiliates Germanwings, Austrian Airlines, Swiss and Brussels Airlines have extended their suspension for a second 24 hours [Jerusalem Post].
  • US Airways Flight 796 from Philadelphia to Tel Aviv is now canceled for Thursday, Friday and Saturday "in response to security concerns" the airline announced. [USA Today]
  • Other airlines that have cancelled their flights (from our own checking) include: Royal Jordanian, Turkish, Pegasus (Turkey), EasyJet.
John Kerry, the US Secretary of State is here in Israel. The security situation at Ben Gurion did not prevent him from flying in at the start of the day. Is there a connection between his efforts and the FAA decision? Maybe.

UPDATE Thursday 06:00 am Jerusalem time:  FAA Lifts Flight Restrictions for Ben Gurion International Airport (FAA Statement). Now waiting to see what the Europeans and Delta do.

1 comment:

Mr. Cohen said...