Ben Gurion airport 311.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Flights out of Ben-Gurion Airport were expected to resume late Thursday night following a
frantic day of cancellations and stranded passengers due to contamination in the
airport's aviation fuel supply.
By Thursday evening the airport began
dipping into its fuel reserves, and tanker trucks were bringing in millions of
liters in an attempt to alleviate the situation, which had left thousands of
passengers without a way to leave the country.
Editorial: Keep our airport safe
El Al, which canceled 20
flights, said it would offer refunds and alternative flights, and Israir said it
would supply buses to Eilat for passengers whose flights to the southern resort
Apart from the international flights, all domestic flights
were canceled due to the contaminated fuel.
Of thirteen flights that were
grounded on Thursday, six were expected to take off overnight Thursday and the
remaining seven on Friday morning.
Approximately 1,500 passengers
suffered delays because of the cancelations.
Most of the Israeli
passengers who were due to leave on Thursday night stayed at the terminal, while
those who were expected to take off on Friday returned home.
flights were canceled were offered to choose between a refund or an exchange
ticket to their destination at a later date at no extra charge, an El Al
spokeswoman told The Jerusalem Post.
She added that most passengers were
local so there was need for the airline to book hotel rooms for them.
some Israeli passengers coming back from European destinations were stuck in
Europe, as the planes they were intended to board would need to refuel after
landing in Ben Gurion. These passengers were offered a free night at a hotel
Following the discovery of the contamination, National
Infrastructures Minister Uzi Landau (Israel Beiteinu) issued a statement calling
for the immediate establishment of a commission of
Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz (Likud) called the incident
³a grievous matter² and said he had instructed ministry officials to launch an
emergency probe as to how the contamination occurred. He added that clearing the
stranded flights was an immediate priority and promised to ensure that the
necessary fuel was supplied.
The fuel contamination was initially
discovered a week and a half ago, but no action was taken. When questioned by
reporters on Thursday evening, Katz said there had been no danger to passengers
over the past week and a half.
Only planes with enough fuel to make their
destination were allowed to depart the airport.
Adar Avisar, spokesman
for the Israel Airports Authority, said the cause of the contamination was not
yet known and that it had been spotted early enough in the day by the relevant
authorities to make sure no aircraft took off with tainted fuel.
are no planes in the air that have received an order to land,² he
Flights that were scheduled to land at or depart from Ben-Gurion on
Thursday were landing in Cyprus and Jordan for refueling during the day.