Several foreign airlines have suspended flights to Israel following rocket attacks launched from Gaza.

The first to stop operating into the country on 22 July was Korean Air, after debris from an intercepted rocket fell near Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion International airport.

In a notice to airmen, the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) banned US carriers from flying to Ben Gurion for at least 24h, a move that affects American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines and US Airways. Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has asked US secretary of state John Kerry to lobby the FAA to re-evaluate its decision.

Lufthansa also suspended planned flights, along with Air France, Austrian Airlines, KLM and Swiss International Air Lines. In a “service information bulletin”, the European Aviation Safety Agency has today made a “strong recommendation” that airlines avoid Ben Gurion until further notice. “The recommendation applies to all European airlines,” says EASA.

Representatives of airlines have asked for permission to use the Israeli air base in Uvda as an alternative airport, but the conditions there mean it cannot sustain the number of flights that would be diverted, even for a short period. As a result, some flights have instead landed in Cyprus or Turkey.

Israel’s civil aviation authority has previously declared that Uvda – near Eilat in southern Israel – could no longer be used as an alternate to Ben Gurion because of its narrow runway and the lack of an instrument landing system.

The Israeli air force was asked to allow its Nevatim air base to be used as an alternative, at least until the new international airport in Eilat is built, but the service refused, saying the volume of flights it conducts from the site precludes civilian use.

Source: Cirium Dashboard