June 25: The FAA’s unfriendly skies

Seems there was no problem flying US Secretary of State John Kerry into and out of Ben-Gurion Airport. Perhaps he should have traveled via Jordan or Egypt.

Letters 370 (photo credit: REUTERS/Handout )
Letters 370
(photo credit: REUTERS/Handout )
Sir, – With regard to “FAA bans flights to Israel on US airlines for 24 hours” (July 23), talk about “collective punishment” and “disproportional” responses! How else would you describe a ban on flights to and from Israel for all US airlines, and a similar decision by some European carriers? I understand caution, but perhaps this was an extreme reaction designed to pressure Israel against fighting with Hamas.
Seems there was no problem flying US Secretary of State John Kerry into and out of Ben-Gurion Airport. Perhaps he should have traveled via Jordan or Egypt.
Sir, – I am an airline industry professional and an Federal Aviation Administration- licensed pilot.
The mechanism by which the FAA issues such directives is called a NOTAM.
For the sake of fairness, the NOTAM issued for Ben-Gurion Airport was not entirely unprecedented. After the recent downing of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17, the FAA banned US operators from flying over the eastern Ukraine cities of Simferopol and Dnepropetrovsk.
The main difference is that in Ukraine an airliner was actually shot down.
In other problematic areas of the world with “significant risk to civil flight operations,” including the Sinai Peninsula, North Korea, Yemen and Afghanistan, FAA NOTAMs direct US operators to “obtain current threat information” and then decide for themselves whether or not to fly. The NOTAM issued for Ben-Gurion did not use the word “risk” at all, referring only to a “potentially hazardous situation,” yet it declared: “All flight operations to/ from Ben-Gurion International Airport by US operators are prohibited.”
The FAA and/or the US Department of Transportation overstepped their mandate in issuing such a NOTAM. It appears to have been a political tactic, probably with the goal of pressuring Israel into accepting a US-sponsored cease-fire agreement with Hamas by crippling the flow of passengers and cargo into and out of Israel.
Sir, – Israel should assess a special fee on all airlines that canceled flights to Ben-Gurion Airport for the past few days.
The funds could be used to recover lost tourism dollars.
New York City
Sir, – Now we know why EU leaders were so keen to finalize the “Open Skies” agreement for their airlines to fly to Israel – to try to shut our airport down.
Hopefully, the management of such companies as Easyjet will soon get the message that there is no place for their airline at Ben-Gurion Airport unless they actually fly there.
Sir, – If passengers are canceling their flights for whatever reason, they are perfectly entitled to do so. But for those who desire to fly to Israel – and all the power to them – the means should be readily available. No airline should be pressured into canceling flights.
I have a daughter living in London who is due to arrive in Israel next month, and if there are no planes available to bring her here she says she is ready to swim! JACKIE ALTMAN Netanya Sir, – All trucks carrying food and other relief materials, including UN supplies, should not be allowed to come within 20 km. of the border with the Gaza Strip, as rockets and mortar shells have been falling throughout the area. If this is necessary for the airlines, it must be a good policy.
CORRECTIONS Sec.-Lt. Yuval Haiman, who was killed on Monday in Operation Protective Edge, was buried at the military cemetery on Mt. Herzl in Jerusalem, and not as stated in “Friends and family pay tribute to fallen heroes” (July 23).
The photograph that accompanied “Remembering one who died for Israel” (Comment & Features, July 24) was taken by Marc Israel Sellem of The Jerusalem Post, and not as stated.