The saga is not finished. There is now open war between EL AL and the Israeli civil aviation authority (CAA).
This war was officially declared last week, when the CAA refused to give EL AL another waiver and demanded that with immediate effect, landing at Eilat airport will use a new visual approach pattern.
The clash began when the president of EL AL decided to cancel the airline’s daytime flights from Ben-Gurion airport to Eilat, in southern Israel. He claimed the new visual direct final approach pattern was not safe.
The new pattern, a result of “ security considerations”, was announced by the CAA.
While EL AL claims the new approach pattern to Eilat airport is not safe, the two other Israeli airlines – Arkia and Israir – are continuing to fly to Eilat with ATR-72s, as well as Boeing 757s and Airbus A-320s.
A few weeks ago the CAA decided to allow EL AL to use the old landing pattern until last week – and then refused to allow another waiver.
War was declared when EL AL announced that a repeated evaluation confirmed the new approach pattern cannot ensure the required safety standard of its flights on the route.
So, EL AL is not performing daytime flights to Eilat – a fact that increases the load factors of the two other airlines operating on the domestic route – Arkia and Israir.
But this is a side-effect of the weird situation – while many Israeli aviation professionals, including EL AL pilots, don’t understand the airline management’s decision, the open war between Israel’s largest airline and the CAA creates an atmosphere that in very mild words is “not healthy”.
The Iron Dome rocket interceptor system was deployed near Eilat after rockets were launched from the Sinai desert in neighbouring Egypt.
When an airline and a regulatory body are at war, no advanced technology can protect from the fallout.