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Pilots’ fears over Israel flight ban reversal

The arrivals gate board shows cancelled flights at terminal three at Ben Gurion Airport. Picture: Getty

The arrivals gate board shows cancelled flights at terminal three at Ben Gurion Airport. Picture: Getty

  • by VICTORIA BRYAN
 

CONTROVERSY has erupted over the decision by some airlines to resume flights to Israel at the height of clashes between the Israel Defence Forces and Islamist militant group Hamas.

Germany’s pilots’ union criticised a decision by Air Berlin and Lufthansa to resume flights to Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv yesterday.

The move ends a ban imposed in response to fears that rockets fired from the Gaza Strip may hit passing aircraft.

Turkey also lifted its ban yesterday afternoon.

Joerg Handwerg, a board member at union Vereinigung Cockpit, said the decision seemed driven by political and economic factors rather than by security reasons.

“We should not be flying to locations where there are 
shots being fired,” Handwerg added.

The truce was only temporary and Israel’s rocket defence system appeared unable to stop all rockets, he said.

Handwerg said he had demanded airlines ensure staff only agree to work on flights on a voluntary basis.

A spokesman for Lufthansa said the airline was constantly monitoring the security situation at Tel Aviv airport, using all available security information.

“A decision on whether or not to fly is made purely on the basis of security considerations,” a spokesman for Lufthansa said.

Lufthansa Group also operates the airlines Germanwings, Austrian Airlines and Swiss.

On Tuesday, the United States Federal Aviation Administration imposed a ban on flights by US airlines to Ben Gurion, Israel’s main hub, in response to a Palestinian rocket that struck a building two kilometres from the airport.

It too, however, has since lifted the ban.

 
 
 

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