International travel association appeals to keep Ben Gurion airport open

The government says it will release details regarding the closure of Ben Gurion airport by the end of day Thursday.

By David Isaac, World Israel News

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has appealed to Israeli Transportation Minister Miri Regev to help keep Ben Gurion International Airport open as the country prepares for a lockdown said to be even tighter than was imposed during the first wave of the pandemic, Arutz 7 reports.

IATA said in its appeal that the government’s plan to allow only for incoming flights is likely to cause serious disruptions to airline companies and could lead to a stoppage of all flights to the airport, Arutz 7 reports.

The IATA is a global association representing the airline industry and lobbying on its behalf around the world. Its headquarters is in Montreal, Canada.

As of mid-afternoon Thursday, Israel was still hashing out the details of its airport restrictions. According to reports, the government will allow Israeli citizens to return to Israel through the airport, but will shut down outgoing flights. However, it may allow necessary travel – how that will be defined is what remains murky.

The government says it will release details regarding the closure of Ben Gurion airport by the end of day Thursday.

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The lockdown will go into effect at 2:00 p.m. on Friday and last for two weeks, until the end of the Sukkot holiday, which ends October 9 in Israel.

The lockdown is in fact a tightening of an existing lockdown that went into effect on September 18, but which was criticized as having too many loopholes.

The new, tighter lockdown has also come under sharp criticism. Opposition leader Yair Lapid of the Yesh Atid-Telem faction said, echoing a theme that the prime minister wants the lockdown to stop protests against him: “All government ministers, and especially our friends in Blue and White, should ask themselves this morning… What are they doing in a government whose prime minister is only engaged in cheap politics?”

Knesset Member Ayelet Shaked of the Yemina faction, a group to the right of the Likud party, criticized the move for the damage it would do to the economy.

“The Israeli government made a devastating and irrational decision yesterday. Senior ministers and senior finance ministry officials are amazed at the inaction and the farce,” she said.

Corona czar Prof. Ronni Gamzu, who brought a plan for tighter restrictions that snowballed quickly into the new lockdown rules, said that the government’s decision went further than even he had advised. “I suggested tightening the lockdown. I didn’t advise a complete shutdown of the country. But the government decided otherwise and I respected it,” he said.

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