Early morning flights at Ben-Gurion airport banned

High Court accepts Holon petition against decision last year to allow take-offs from the airport during the early morning hours.

March 31, 2011 03:25
2 minute read.
An El Al plane taxiing down the runway

311_el al plane. (photo credit: Courtesy)


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The High Court of Justice accepted a petition Wednesday by localities in the vicinity of Ben-Gurion Airport against a decision last year to allow take-offs from the airport during the early morning hours.

Runway restoration begun last year left only one usable airstrip at Ben-Gurion, which threaten to generate serious flight bottlenecks.

To compensate, Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz asked the Israel Airports Authority last year for permission to let aircraft take off between 1:40 a.m. until 5:50 a.m. in winter and 4:50 a.m.

in summer, hours when flights had previously been forbidden.

It later emerged that even before receiving IAA permission, Katz had authorized the airport to allow flights to begin taking off at 3:50 a.m. on holidays.

Not long after that decision, municipalities near the airport filed a petition to have the decision overturned.
Justices Elyakim Rubinstein, Esther Hayut and Uzi Fogelman ruled Wednesday that overnight flights could only take off with special permission from the Civil Aviation Authority, and only with the sanction of the local councils that would be affected.

The justices, however, rejected a petition against the special permission granted to El Al to fly during the early morning hours between Thursday and Friday. The petitioners had said that while authorization was originally granted to deal with El Al’s restriction against flying on Shabbat, it was effectively being used for purely commercial gain.

The justices, while rejecting the claim, did say that El Al flights during these times should be monitored to make sure the company was not exploiting the loophole.

“The name of Shabbat should not, God forbid, be taken in vain,” the justices wrote in their ruling.

Holon Mayor Motti Sasson said after the ruling, “This is yet another stage in our ongoing fight, and we’ll continue to fight to achieve our elementary right to sleep in peace without being disturbed for several hours every night.”

The Transportation Ministry said in a statement that the ruling “is in accordance with the views of Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz and CAA head Giora Rom, by which the overcapacity of Ben-Gurion Airport must be prevented.

That said, the utmost be done to accommodate residents of areas near the airport.”

An El Al spokesperson said the decision would have little immediate effect on the airline, and welcomed the court’s decision to let it continue flying overnight between Thursday and Friday.

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