- Israeli air carriers El Al, Israir, and Arkia are continuing to operate scheduled flights to help facilitate the exodus and repatriation of citizens and reservists called up to duty.
- El Al is operating flights as scheduled, including adding a flight from Athens to Tel Aviv, and may prioritize repatriation flights if needed.
- Despite concerns over airspace safety, Israel’s main airport in Tel Aviv is operating at a reduced capacity, and the European Union Aviation Safety Agency and FAA have not restricted flights to Israel.
Israeli air carriers are continuing to operate their airline schedules even as foreign carriers suspend services to the country over airspace safety concerns. Flag carrier El Al, along with Israir and Arkia, are presently continuing scheduled operations and adding flights to help facilitate the exodus and repatriation of citizens and reservists called up to duty.
Where are the flights going?
Flag carrier EL AL Airlines confirmed today that it is operating its flights as scheduled, in accordance with the instructions of the Israeli security forces. All flights from Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion (TLV) will depart from Terminal 3, including flights originally planned to depart from Terminal 1.
The airline also added a flight to Tel Aviv from Athens today (Tuesday, October 10th) as passengers stranded abroad attempt to rebook flights on operating services. It further indicated that it might reallocate staff and aircraft to prioritize repatriation flights. According to a statement on its website this morning, El Al is planning to continue its schedule until instructed otherwise:
“We act according to the instructions of the security authorities and are in direct contact with them. To the extent that there is a different directive regarding the issue of flight operations, we will of course follow it.”
Israel’s second-largest carrier, Israir Airlines, is also adding flights to help Israelis back to the country. Additional rotations have been added to Larnaca, Cyprus; Corfu, Greece; and Batumi, Georgia. The carrier did post in an update on its website that its foreign crews were asked to leave the country, and some Israeli staff were also recruited to fight, leading to the possibility of a reduced flight schedule in the future.
Arkia has also added flights from the Greek capital of Athens to Eilat on the Red Sea in southern Israel and Marrakesh, Morocco, to Tel Aviv. A significant number of Israelis are thought to be abroad due to the Simchat Torah holiday and long weekend, and a number of locals are looking to leave the country to avoid the conflict.
Is it safe to fly?
The country’s main airport in Tel Aviv continues to operate at a reduced capacity despite being declared a target by the military wing of Hamas. As of press time, over 120 flights to and from Ben Guiron Airport had been canceled on Tuesday, representing a fifth of its schedule in each direction.
The European Union Aviation Safety Agency issued a Conflict Zone Information Bulletin (CZIB) for the airspace of Israel but did not go as far as to restrict flights. The agency found the Civil Aviation Authority of the state of Israel is actively managing the risk to civil aviation and does not find any indications that their mitigation measures are not efficient or inadequate. A similar bulletin by the FAA in the United States echoed the same sentiments.
Airspace safety watchdog organization OPS Group issued a Level 1 “Do Not Fly” warning for Israeli airspace earlier this week. It highlighted the increased risk of a passenger aircraft becoming a casual of war. Most recently seen nine years ago in the case of MH17.
Photo: Dmitry Pistrov / Shutterstock
Israel’s southern Eilat-Ramon Airport (ETM), located near the Red Sea, continues to serve as an alternate airport and possible destination within Israel, outside the present conflict zone.