311_el al plane.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
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
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
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.