El Al again halts Eilat flights on safety concerns

Airline says new flight path to Eilat implemented by Aviation Authority does not offer the proper safety level for civil aviation.

El Al airplanes (photo credit: Ronen Zvulun / Reuters)
El Al airplanes
(photo credit: Ronen Zvulun / Reuters)
El Al has decided to cancel all its flights to Eilat starting on Thursday due to a mandated change in flight route that the company says require additional tests for safety reasons.
The company similarly canceled flights to Eilat on Wednesday, September 11, after the Civil Aviation Authority changed the procedure for taking off and landing at the Eilat airport.
Explaining that the airline requires time to examine the plans and conduct tests before making the changes, El Al officials decided to cancel the flights for that day.
That Wednesday night, however, Civil Aviation Authority manger Giora Romm decided that El Al could continue to fly its original route for two additional weeks.
The series of meticulous tests that occurred were performed by El Al and a number of professional bodies, headed by the company’s chief pilot and its 737 fleet manager, the company explained. In light of the analysis that followed, El Al officials said they have concluded that the new flight pattern does not allow for an adequate level of aviation safety.
The report cited issues such as a “limited approach to the runway for landing” and stressed that “there is not much room for error, especially for cases and reactions to malfunctions.”
While El Al requested an additional extension from the Civil Aviation Authority to continue flying its original route, the company said that the request was not granted.
El Al has pledged to refund money to customers who had flights booked and expressed hopes that a solution would be found soon.
“The issue of flight safety is paramount to El Al,” said El Al CEO Eliezer Shkedi. “We will not compromise the safety of our passengers.”