Ben Gurion airport 311.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Two weeks after a suspected contaminated fuel supply delayed thousands of
travelers, the Knesset’s Economic Affairs Committee held a meeting to discuss
the implications of the embarrassing fuel foul-up, and to prevent future such
Foreign airlines set to seek millions after fuel debacle
Ben Gurion Airport resumes normal fueling procedures
Committee Chairman Carmel Shama-Hacohen said that although the
fuel contamination had received extensive media coverage, there had yet to be a
round- table discussion that brought together the relevant parties to discuss
the incident. This was the rationale, he said, behind holding Wednesday’s
“One could say that this was a consumer, economic, service and
image disaster,” said Shama-Hacohen. “It is embarrassing that a country that
develops missiles like the Arrow, defense systems like Iron Dome, and maintains
satellites in space does not have the ability to guarantee a fuel supply for
Transportation Ministry Dir.- Gen. Dan Harel briefed the
committee on the chain of events of what became a civil aviation
Two weeks before airplanes were grounded by the fuel
contamination, information began to accumulate that the filters at Ben-Gurion
Airport’s fuel dump were becoming clogged much more quickly than
Harel said that at the time, however, fuel samples sent to be
checked came back clean.
On May 5, Harel said, a senior official warned
the ground services director at the airport that the samples contained an
unidentified material that could be life-threatening.
Based on this
report, it was decided to stop fueling airplanes.
Harel said that since
the grounding, the material had been identified as ash and glass fibers, but
that the source of the contamination had yet to be identified.
believe, he continued, that the source of the contamination was outside of the
For six days, until May 11, the airport managed to make
do with alternative fueling arrangements, Harel said, adding that “no planes
were actually canceled – there were delays, but within 14 hours, all the planes
were re-fueled and ready to fly.”
According to Harel, two separate
committees have since been established to probe the contamination – one under
his leadership in the Transportation Ministry, and a second, led by Gas
Authority Director Hen Bar-Yosef in the Ministry of National
Bar-Yosef said his committee would deliver its
conclusions within six weeks.
He emphasized that at no point in the
crisis was the allegedly contaminated fuel actually pumped into
But an Israir Deputy Dir.- Gen., Dror Bahat, disagreed with
Harel’s attempts to downplay the economic implications of the
“We canceled dozens of flights and had heavy financial damage,”
Over 12,000 travelers were involved in the incident and
class-action suits have already been filed against some companies, El-Al said.