Following the decision by a number of U.S. carriers to indefinitely suspend flights from the United States to Israel after a rocket struck near Israel's lone airport, the Federal Aviation Administration weighed in, prohibiting all flights to Israel for 24 hours.
The Israeli Transportation Minister Israel Katz already expressed his dismay about the airlines' decisions not to fly to Ben Gurion Airport:
Transportation Minister called on American aviation companies to return to normal functioning, stressing that Ben-Gurion airport was safe from for take-offs and landings, and that there was no security concern for passenger planes.
"There is no reason for the American companies to stop their flight and give a prize to terror," he said.
The FAA may wind up having more influence over the course of the Gaza war than the State Department.— Jeffrey Goldberg (@JeffreyGoldberg) July 22, 2014
The Associated Press is reporting that Delta has decided to indefinitely suspend all of its flights to Israel amid rocket fire from Gaza upon the nearby Tel Aviv area and, most recently, the area surrounding Israel's lone international airport.
Delta Air Lines is canceling all flights to Israel until further notice, citing reports that a rocket landed near Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion Airport.
JUST IN: Delta flight from New York City to Tel Aviv diverted to Paris on Tues. morning after rocket from Gaza hit near Ben Gurion Airport.— ABC News (@ABC) July 22, 2014
The precedent set by Delta's decision could potentially cripple Israel's economy.
Ben Gurion Airport as only intl' airport in #Israel is one of its weakest links. It handles 90% of arrivals/departures in the country— Anshel Pfeffer (@AnshelPfeffer) July 22, 2014
Throughout decades of peace negotiations, the greatest fear about an Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank was that it would place its only international airport in the crosshairs of rocket fire. But in the past two weeks, Hamas has unveiled rockets capable of firing greater distances, allowing it to target cities once unfathomable to Israeli security forces, including its largest city, Tel Aviv.
Question -- does Delta's decision to cancel flights speed up ceasefire, or cause Israel to seek destruction of all rockets?— Jeffrey Goldberg (@JeffreyGoldberg) July 22, 2014
While Ben Gurion Airport itself in nearby Lod has not been struck by rocket fire, as the greater Tel Aviv area has come under fire (and likely with the fate of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 in mind), Delta doesn't seem to be taking any chances.
Here is Delta's statement:
Delta has suspended service until further notice to and from Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv and its New York-JFK hub. Delta, in coordination with the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, is doing so to ensure the safety and security of our customers and employees.
Delta flight 468, a Boeing 747 from JFK with 273 passengers and 17 crew, diverted to Paris-Charles de Gaulle Tuesday after reports of a rocket or associated debris near the airport in Tel Aviv. Delta is working to reaccommodate these customers.
Delta continues to work closely with U.S. and other government resources to monitor the situation.
According to reports, US Airways and United are also suspending its one flight:
US Airways, which has one daily flight from Philadelphia, canceled that flight Tuesday and the return trip from Tel Aviv. United Airlines, which has two flights daily to Israel out of Newark, N.J., did comment immediately on the status of those flights."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.