FAA Halts U.S. Flights to Tel Aviv
The Federal Aviation Administration on Tuesday shut down U.S. flights in and out of Israel for up to 24-hours amid escalating violence in the region.
The FAA issued a notice at 12:15 p.m. EST telling U.S. airlines not to fly to or from Israel's Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv following a rocket strike which landed about a one mile from the airport earlier on Tuesday.
Several European airlines have also canceled flights to Tel Aviv, among them Air France and Germany's Lufthansa. However, the notice applies only to U.S. operators, and not to foreign airlines operating to or from the airport, the FAA said.
“The FAA immediately notified U.S. carriers when the agency learned of the rocket strike and informed them that the agency was finalizing a (notice),” the agency said in a statement.
Delta, United Continental and other major airlines all halted flights to Tel Aviv Tuesday amid worries about rocket fire near the Israeli city.
Delta Air Lines (NYSE:DAL) said in a statement that it has suspended operations “until further notice” to and from Tel Aviv and its hub at New York's John F. Kennedy Airport. The Atlanta-based carrier said it was doing so in coordination with the FAA “to ensure the safety of our customers and employees.”
US Airways, a unit of American Airlines Group, also confirmed that it had shut down flights in and out of Tel Aviv to ensure the safety of their passengers.
Casey Norton, a spokesman for American Airlines, which has merged with US Air, told Fox News that USAir Flight 796 -- Philadelphia to Tel-Aviv -- and Flight 797 -- Tel-Aviv to Philadelphia -- have been cancelled for today. He said they are monitoring the situation and remaining in contact with the FAA.
The airline does not operate flights to Tel-Aviv under the "American Airlines" moniker.
The Associated Press reported that Israel's Transportation Ministry urged airlines to reverse their decisions.
"Ben-Gurion Airport is safe and completely guarded and there is no reason whatsoever that American companies would stop their flights and hand terror a prize," the Israeli ministry said in a statement.
The FAA said it will continue to monitor and evaluate the situation. Further instructions will be provided to U.S. airlines as soon as conditions permit, the agency said, but no later than 24 hours from the time the ban went into force.
The decision came after Hamas, the militant group that dominates in the Gaza Strip, and its allies fired more rockets into Israel, triggering sirens in Tel Aviv, according to a Reuters report. One hit a town on the fringes of Ben-Gurion International Airport, lightly injuring two people, officials said.