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Ben-Gurion International Airport is behaving with "egregious insensitivity" in allowing flights to leave at any hour of the night, despite a government ban on takeoffs between the hours of 1:40 and 5:50 a.m., a senior official in the Israel Airports Authority wrote in a letter to the airport's management.
The internal document, obtained by Army Radio, claimed that residents of communities in the airport's flight path had their sleep "constantly disturbed," and alleged that in 2005 - despite the restriction - some 700 aircraft had left Ben-Gurion in the no-fly hours.
"Gush Dan residents don't need this report to know how disturbing the airplane noise is," Shoham Regional Council head Gil Livne said. "Let [us] sleep peacefully," he added.
According to Army Radio, the law stipulates that the airport's five duty managers lock the airport [to outgoing flights] every night. In urgent situations, they are charged to use their discretion. However, the letter called the managers' decisions "flawed."
While the report on 2006 is not yet ready, senior officials at Ben-Gurion have received a monthly report for April 2007 that reveals that over 60 "exceptional" flights had been authorized for takeoff.
Meanwhile, Brussels Airlines Director Robbie Hershkowitz said that his passengers have repeatedly been stuck at the airport because of the restricted flight times. "Bureaucracy takes precedence over common sense," he said.