Airlines will run from Israel if ‘frantic’ policy doesn’t change, transport group warns

“But there is no policy similar to the one in Israel, and for airlines this is an unsustainable situation,” Sussman said. 

By David Isaac, World Israel News

International airlines may stop flying to Israel. That’s the warning from Kobi Sussman, director general of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) in Israel to the Globes financial site on Tuesday.

“The whole industry suffers from what is happening, and there are countries that, while putting in place health procedures and maintaining distance, allow as reasonable an aviation as possible,” Sussman said.

“But there is no policy similar to the one in Israel, and for airlines this is an unsustainable situation. As long as the government’s policy is frantic, and doesn’t work in line with what is happening in the world, they may stop flying to Israel,” he said.

Israel instituted a tough new lockdown on Sept. 18. As part of its restrictions, it only allowed travelers to leave the country who had purchased a ticket prior to the Sept. 25 cutoff date.

Globes reports on a situation where as few as 10 people are in a plane leaving Ben Gurion International Airport. Sometimes the airline crew is larger than the number of passengers.

The report notes that planes also carry deliveries but it’s not enough to cover the cost of the flights – at least $150,000 to the U.S. and $60,000 to Europe.

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As a sign of what may be coming, Ryanair announced it’s cancelling its Tel Aviv-Salonika flights. It blamed the changing policies of the government.

“If the State of Israel wants the economy to recover during this period, it must internalize that aviation is a catalyst for economic recovery. If there is no aviation policy, there will be no economic recovery,” Sussman said.

Israel is working on a seven-to-eight stage exit strategy to gradually step out of its current lockdown. In the first stage, which it appears won’t begin until Oct. 18 at the earliest, business travelers will be allowed to fly.

However, a full opening of Ben Gurion isn’t envisioned in the current plan until stage 5. Given that each stage is to take place in two-week increments, it means that Ben Gurion Airport won’t fully reopen until the end of December.