The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has no authority to ground foreign airliners from landing in Tel Aviv though Deutsche Lufthansa AG (ADR) (OTCMKTS:DLAKY) (ETR:LHA) and Air France KLM SA (ADR) (OTCMKTS:AFLYY) (EPA:AF) have also cancelled their flights to the capital city. Both Delta Air Lines, Inc. (NYSE:DAL) and United Airlines announced today that they would take it a step further and suspend flights to Israel indefinitely. US Airways Group Inc (NYSE:LCC) stated that it was monitoring the situation with regards to future flights.
The ban went into effect at 12:15 p.m. ET today after a rocket landed roughly a mile from Ben Gurion International Airport earlier in the day. The airport is located only 50 miles from the border of Gaza where rocket attacks into Israel are a common occurrence and prompted the Israeli ground offensive that began last Thursday.
FAA: Delta flight turns around, lands in Paris
Delta Air Lines single daily flight to Tel Aviv when the rocket landed near the airport and Flight 468 rerouted to Paris with 273 passengers and 17 crew on board.
Whether or not the ban will be extended remains to be seen with the FAA stating that further decisions would be issued “as soon as conditions permit, but no later than 24 hours.”
Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system has shot down a number of the over 2,000 rockets towards Israel since July 8th, but the system is not perfect and can be overwhelmed.
The move by the FAA certainly has been affected following the downing of a Malaysia Airlines jet that was shot down over eastern Ukraine last week killing all 298 on board.
United Airlines flies twice a day from Newark, NJ to Tel Aviv, while US Airways makes one daily flight out of Philadelphia, PA.
Israel assures carriers
“We are in constant contact with the FAA and are monitoring the situation closely,” said Casey Norton, spokesman for US Airways’ parent company American Airlines.
Just after the FAA announced the ban, Israel’s Transportation Ministry asked the companies to reverse their decisions saying that the airport was “safe for landings and departures.”
“There is no reason for the American companies to stop their flight and give a prize to terror,” Israeli Transportation Minister Israel Katz told The Jerusalem Post.