Night flights restricted amid residents’ complaints

Decision comes about after airlines complain of lost income due to restrictions forcing them to take off toward the east.

June 15, 2010 06:42
1 minute read.
THE IAF Gulfstream jets over Hungary were on a dip

plane illustrative 311. (photo credit: Courtesy)

In an effort to find a compromise between the financial interests of international airlines and the sleep requirements of local residents, the Israel Airports Authority (IAA) decided over the weekend to limit takeoffs of long-haul flights from Ben-Gurion Airport’s single operating runway to between 11:30 p.m. and 1 a.m.

The decision came about after the airlines complained of lost income due to restrictions forcing them to take off toward the east.

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Since the beginning of June, Ben-Gurion Airport has been operating with a single runway while the second one undergoes renovations. During the renovation period, which is expected to take up to three-and-a-half years, the Transportation Ministry authorized nighttime flights so as not to harm passengers flying out of Israel. To prevent the noise from disrupting the lives of the residents of the surrounding cities – Holon, Or Yehuda, Rishon Lezion, Lod and Bat Yam – planes were restricted to taking toward the east.

Long-haul flight operators complained about the restriction to the IAA, claiming that the eastward takeoffs meant they could carry less cargo, harming their bottom line. After a meeting with airline representatives and representatives of the Civil Aviation Authority over the weekend, the IAA authorized the new takeoff hours.

The residents, meanwhile, are fuming, and Holon Mayor Moti Sasson is leading a campaign against the decision to allow the nighttime flights. Sasson claims that the IAA is operating out of financial considerations and using safety as an excuse.

A Supreme Court hearing on the matter following a petition by Sasson and his fellow mayors has yet to be scheduled. The court has already rejected a request for an interim injunction freezing nighttime flights.

The mayors forum issued a statement declaring that the fact that the airport had managed to continue regular operations without scheduling night flights since the beginning of the month, even though they had been authorized to do so, proved that the allowances were not necessary and that the IAA should let residents sleep in peace.

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