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US, European agencies lift travel restrictions to Tel Aviv

© Gil Cohen Magen, AFP | Flights cancelled at Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion International Airport

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2014-07-25

Shortly after the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) ended its ban on American flights in and out of Tel Aviv on Thursday, the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) also said it had lifted its advisory against air travel to the city.

The FAA had instituted a 24-hour ban on Tuesday, after a rocket landed about a mile (1.6 kilometres) from the Tel Aviv airport. Later the same day, the EASA issued an advisory strongly recommending airlines avoid flying in and out of the city.

In announcing that its ban had been lifted, the FAA said that it had carefully examined the security situation in Israel before coming to a decision.

“Before making this decision, the FAA worked with its US government counterparts to assess the security situation in Israel and carefully reviewed both significant new information and measures the government of Israel is taking to mitigate potential risks to civil aviation,” the FAA said. “The agency will continue to closely monitor the very fluid situation around Ben Gurion Airport and will take additional actions as necessary.”

The directive, which was extended Wednesday, applied only to US carriers. The FAA has no authority over foreign airlines operating in Israel.

Meanwhile, the EASA lifted its own travel advisory, but still urged that national authorities base their decision on whether to operate flights in and out of Tel Aviv “on thorough risk assessments, in particular using risk analysis made by operators.”

Concerns over air travel safety

The FAA’s flight ban was criticised by the Israeli government and by Republican Senator Ted Cruz, who questioned whether President Barack Obama used a federal agency to impose an economic boycott on Israel.

Delta Air Lines, which was among a number of US carriers to indefinitely suspend service to and from Tel Aviv on Tuesday, has said that despite a FAA decision to lift the travel ban, it will continue to make its own decisions about safety.

“We appreciate the advice and consent and the intelligence we get, but we have a duty and an obligation above and beyond that to independently make the right decisions for our employees and passengers,” Delta Air Lines CEO Richard Anderson said on a conference call with reporters. “Even if they lift” the prohibition on flying in and out of Ben-Gurion Airport, “we still may not go in depending on what the facts and circumstances are.”

Anderson declined to specifically discuss how the airline would make the decision to resume the flights and spoke only in general terms. He said the airline decides whether flights are safe to operate “on an independent basis, so we will evaluate the information we have and we will make the judgment that our passengers and employees rely on us to make for them every day.”

Airlines around the world have been increasingly sensitive about air travel safety, after Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 was shot down over eastern Ukraine last week. Following the tragic incident, there were international calls for aviation authorities to improve risk assessment, in particular around conflict areas.

(FRANCE 24 with AP)

Date created : 2014-07-24

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