US, Turkey renews Ben Gurion flight ban for up to 24 hours

Photo: US, Turkey renews Ben Gurion flight ban for up to 24 hours / Arab-Israel Relations

Turkey has extended its ban on flights to Israel by another 24 hours on Wednesday amid ongoing security concerns, says Turkish Transport, Maritime Affairs, and Communication Minister Lufti Elvan, Anadolu agency reported.

The country´s first suspension commenced on Tuesday night at 22:00 local time in Turkey.

Major international carriers decided to halt flights, including Turkish Airlines, Turkey´s national carrier, to Israel Tuesday after a rocket landed near Ben Gurion Airport outside Tel Aviv.

The airlines' announcement follows an order by the United States' Federal Aviation Administration Tuesday which barred U.S. airlines from flying to Tel Aviv for 24 hours.

In the last 24 hours, 144 out of 244 daily scheduled flights were cancelled from and to Ben-Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv. However, Israeli airline El Al and British Airways maintained their regular flight schedule.

The U.S.' national aviation authority renewed a flight ban on U.S. carriers Wednesday flying to or from Israel's Ben Gurion International airport for an additional 24 hours.

The initial decision to restrict flights was made by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on Tuesday following a rocket attack that morning roughly one mile from Ben Gurion airport.

The ban will stay in place for an additional 24 hours as the association monitors the situation.

"The agency is working closely with the Israeli government to review the significant new information they have provided and determine whether potential risks to U.S. civil aviation are mitigated so the agency can resolve concerns as quickly as possible," it said in a statement.

The renewal, like the earlier decision, affects only U.S. carriers, and does not have any bearing on foreign airlines flying to or from the airport.

Israel's transportation minister Yisrael Katz announced Wednesday that Ovda airport, located just north of the southern Israeli city of Eilat, would be opened in response to the initial ban on Ben Gurion.

It was not immediately clear how the opening of Ovda will affect the FAA's decision.

Officials in Israel have been trying to restore global air connections after cancelling flights to and from the country. Israel said it has opened up another lesser-used airport in the south of the country for more international flights as its economy is affected from the cancellation of the flights.

Israel´s only international airport Ben-Gurion is crucial for the tourism industry where more than 14.2 million people transited through it in 2013. Income from tourism generates more than $8 billion per annum. More than 30 percent of flight reservations to the country have been cancelled after Israel´s attack on Gaza.

Israel's military operation has left at least 663 Palestinians dead - mostly civilians - since it began on July 7 with the stated aim of staunching Palestinian rocket fire.

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