el al plane 88.
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Flights in and out of Tel Aviv are expected to be back on schedule by the weekend, local aviation officials said Thursday as they attempted to minimize the damage caused by the one-day strike, which closed the airport to all traffic Wednesday.
"We are back to normal procedure and are waiting for the airlines to align their schedules," Israel Airports Authority spokesman Shmulik Hefetz said Thursday afternoon. "I'm guessing that by morning it will be fine when the new cycle starts."
Airport employees returned to work 7 a.m. Thursday when airlines were given their slot timetables and the first plane, Lufthansa flight 691, left Tel Aviv at 9:30, albeit an hour-and-a-half after the post strike slot allocated it.
"We knew we wouldn't be able to leave at eight in the morning because people only heard the news that the strike was over when they woke up," said Lufthansa spokesperson Tal Muscal. "Our crews at the airport worked with the airport cleaners to prepare the aircraft for departure and we were able to depart with minimal delay."
He added that the plane left less than half full and that the airline was slightly overbooked on remaining flights Thursday and Friday because of the overflow from the strike.
El Al, meanwhile, said it would operate 70 incoming and outgoing flights before the weekend, carrying some 20,000 passengers to make up for delays caused by the strike.
"Preference will be given to passengers whose flights were cancelled Wednesday," the airline said. "Passengers on flights scheduled for Thursday and Friday will be rescheduled immediately after those passengers who have missed their flights have been properly taken care of."
El Al added that passengers should check their flight information through its Web site www.elal.co.il or by calling its information center at 03-972-3333.
British Airways and Continental Airlines said their operations would be back to normal Friday and that they would have made up for any passenger delays by the weekend.
Elsewhere, Israel Railways was caught unprepared at the end of the strike as trains only returned to completely regular scheduling by late Thursday afternoon.
Both the Haifa and Ashdod Ports were at normal operations by Thursday afternoon, their respective spokespeople said.