© Mike Fuchslocher

Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport (LLBG/TLV) remains open to traffic – but several major airlines have yet to lift their suspension of flights to and from Israel’s main air hub, as security remains a key issue after the deadly attack by Hamas last Saturday.

British Airways has changed its daily flights from London Heathrow to Tel Aviv so they depart in the morning, instead of the afternoon. It is thought the move is to avoid crew having to stay overnight in Israel.

However, The Loadstar subsequently learned that this morning’s BA flight to Tel Aviv returned to London mid-flight.

Israel’s national carrier, El Al, is maintaining its schedule, as is the nation’s only freighter operator, Challenge Airlines.

However, an aviation information platform has warned that flying in the area is high-risk, while Israel’s aviation authority has advised airlines still flying in its airspace to carry extra fuel as delays are to be expected.

Carriers to suspend services include American Airlines, Air Canada, Air France-KLM, Cathay Pacific, Delta, EgyptAir, Emirates, Finnair, Lufthansa and United Airlines.

Air France-KLM Cargo told The Loadstar Tel Aviv generates “quite significant flows of import/export”. Imports are largely made up of fresh fish and pharma, while flowers and general cargo are the main exports, a spokesperson for the French-Dutch carrier said.

AF-KLM normally operates 20 flights a week on the Tel Aviv route.

In an alert this week, OPS Group, a platform for information exchange between pilots, air traffic controllers and dispatchers, warned members that Tel Aviv [airspace] “is still busy – and it shouldn’t be”.

It is advising airlines to avoid Israeli airspace because of the high risk that an aircraft could be shot down by mistake.

“The primary risk is not just the threat of missiles (hundreds are being directed at LLBG/TLV as this is being written) or anti-aircraft weaponry, but also complacency (or a false sense of security). For decades, we have seen sporadic conflict in Israel – even in quieter periods, rocket attacks on Israel are the norm. As such, operations to LLBG/Tel Aviv continued, and operators have become used to raised threat levels in Israel.

“Further risk comes from a multitude of factors from operating in a conflict zone – misidentification, debris from air defences, GPS spoofing, false EGPWS alerts (now common in Israeli airspace) and reduced route and diversion options in the event of an aircraft emergency,” it added.

Meanwhile, the DHL group has confirmed that its DHL Express unit continues to operate in and out of Israel, but a spokesperson told The Loadstar: “However, we won’t be able to provide further operational details.”

DHL Express opened an $80m robotic sorting centre near LLBG/TLV in January 2022, its biggest investment in the Middle East and which can sort and ship 20,000 packages every hour.

FedEx told The Loadstar that contrary to media reports: “We continue to provide service in Israel in line with government requirements and are closely monitoring the situation.”

Comment on this article

You must be logged in to post a comment.