As airlines canceled flights to Israel for a second day and the FAA extended its ban, experts say that a short-term flight ban won't hurt Israel's economy, so long as it stays short-term.
As we noted yesterday, flights were suspended after the pilot of Delta flight en route to Ben Gurion Airport diverted the plane due to reports that shrapnel from a Gaza-fired rocket landed just a mile away from the airport. Delta announced it would suspend all flights to Israel, triggering a de facto international flight ban and a 24-hour F.A.A. prohibition on flights to Israel.
Just moments ago, that ban was extended into a second day. From Reuters:
"Today ... we are not flying to Israel," Delta CEO Richard Anderson said in an interview with CNBC.
Israeli officials and the diaspora of pro-Israel supporters protested the ban, characterizing it as an overreach and, in the words of one Israeli minister, "a prize" for terrorism. Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg protested the F.A.A. ban by hopping a flight to Tel Aviv on El Al, Israel's national airline, which has continued flying amidst the kerfuffle.
This evening I will be flying on El Al to Tel Aviv to show solidarity with the Israeli people and to demonstrate that it is safe to fly in and out of Israel. Ben Gurion is the best protected airport in the world and El Al flights have been regularly flying in and out of it safely."
Israel, for its part, is lobbying aggressively to change the minds of decision makers. As Israeli spokesman for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on MSNBC last night:
Our airport is safe. Our airport is secure. And we hope the American carriers will be flying to Israel soon."
The biggest issue at play, beyond the obvious question of safety (especially in the wake of the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17), is the impact that the flight bans could have on the Israeli economy. The Wire spoke with Robert Danin, the Eni Enrico Mattei Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, and Niv Elis, a business reporter for the Jerusalem Post, about the meaning and the impact of the ban.