Scandinavian Airlines pulls out of Tel Aviv

Scandinavian Airlines is eliminating its Tel Aviv route due to what it says is stiff competition and security concerns, despite rapid growth in passenger numbers since it was relaunched in 2012.

By: Lauren Calin, World Israel News

Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) announced Friday that it will be eliminating its Copenhagen-Tel Aviv route as of March 2016. SAS cited the security situation, as well as stiff competition on the route. Curiously, the company did not mention security in the Hebrew-language press release. The airline is also cutting eight other routes.

“Tel Aviv is an expensive route to operate in stiff competition and we don’t have a sufficient profitability to keep it. We can also see that political instability is affecting the route,” SAS spokeswoman Trine Kromann-Mikkelsen told the website, Another challenge was the unavailability of flight crews for evening flights.

The airline’s decision was a surprise given that SAS only resumed service to Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport in 2012 after a decade-long absence. The route had been highly successful, with 41% growth in passenger traffic in 2014 and 25% growth in July 2015.

SAS temporarily suspended service to Tel Aviv in summer 2014 during Operation Protective Edge, when Hamas repeatedly attempted to hit Ben Gurion airport with rockets from Gaza. Hamas is currently attempting to escalate the current wave of Palestinian violence against Israelis into a full-fledged intifada.

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The Tel Aviv route is only one of nine routes that the company is cutting. SAS is also eliminating: from Copenhagen, flights to Moscow and Ankara; from Stockholm, flights to Ankara and Pristina; from Gothenburg, flights to Berlin and Dublin; and from Oslo, flights to Pristina and Saltzburg.

The airline will maintain a ticket office in Tel Aviv.