Even as international airlines resumed normal flights to and from Ben-Gurion Airport five days after a Hamas rocket landed about a mile from a runway, as of Sunday, four international airlines refrained from renewing service.
On Tuesday, following the rocket attack on Yehud, the US Federal Aviation Authority banned flights to and from Tel Aviv, while the European Aviation Safety Agency issued a strong recommendation against flying. Most major foreign airlines flying into Israel, with the exception of British Airways, suspended their service until at least Thursday, when both agencies rescinded their warning.
According to the Airports Authority, Korean Air, Royal Jordanian, Adria Airways and Air Sinai had yet to renew service as of Sunday.
Throughout the ordeal, commentators have speculated that there were political motivations behind the bans. Industry insiders, however, said that the FAA and EASA were operating from legitimate security concerns.
The fact that just days earlier, a Malaysian airliner was shot down over a battle zone in the Ukraine, did not help matters.
Yet in some cases, even industry sources see a political bent.
Turkey, for example, continued banning its flights through Saturday, but also prevented other airlines, including El Al, from flying between Tel Aviv and Istanbul to rescue Israelis stranded by the flight ban. Israelis eventually found their way home via Athens and Amman. According to Calcalist, Transport Minister Israel Katz wants Turkish Airlines to pay for the cost of bringing them home, estimated between $5 million and $10m.
“Turkey has now become one of Israel’s biggest opponents,” said an industry source, who noted that Turkish Airlines would likely pay the price for its government’s policies.
The continued cancellations from Egyptian and Jordanian airlines are less likely malicious, but more an act of solidarity with Palestinians designed for their Arab customers, the source said.
“With the Jordanians, they just don’t want to create waves in the Arab world,” he said, adding that flights to and from Egypt were probably not making much money in any case.
Representatives from the foreign airlines in question did not respond to inquiries from The Jerusalem Post on the matter.