The affair began two weeks ago, when the CAA changed the flight, landing and take off paths at the Eilat airport for daylight hours. El Al claimed that the new paths did not meet international safety standards, and added that it did not receive an acceptable answer from the Authority to its professional questions.
The company also said that it had not received a solution that would change its mind regarding the operation of its planes at acceptable safety standards within the newly instituted flight procedures.
As a result, the company decided that as of September 9, it would suspend jet service to Eilat.
On Tuesday, the company released a statement reading, “The professionals at El Al, with the backing of the chief pilot and the manager of the 737 fleet, carried out over the last few days, exact examinations of the flight path proposed by the Authority, as a result of the analysis and answers supplied by the Authority in response to the questions of El Al.
"The professional conclusion is that the new flight pattern does not allow an adequate level of safety of civil aviation flights as is acceptable by El Al or by airports worldwide."
The company added, "According to a report on the results of flight testing performed by the Civil Aviation Authority, it was found that the approach runway is on the borderline. The entire approach is planned based on aircraft limitations. This does not leave much room for error, especially for malfunctions."
Bye bye Eilat? El Al plane at Ben-Gurion Airport (Photo: Sivan Farag)
"In El Al’s opinion, these conclusions are true for all of the new procedures. The integration of unusual aerial procedures, with the fact that Eilat airport is itself an unusual airport, effected by different constraints and by limiting ground infrastructure, increases the overall safety risk included in flying into Eilat today, and bringing it to a level that is inappropriate in civil aviation flight.”
According to the company, it requested an urgent CAA provision for further extension that would allow the continuation of day flights to Eilat in their prior format, in order to prevent harm to the company's customers who had planned to fly during the holidays and are scheduled to return from Eilat over the weekend. The request was rejected by the CAA.
"Because the extension was not given as requested, El Al will be forced to suspend day flights to Eilat in the new format, from the date set by the CAA – the 26th of September 2013," the company said in a statement.
El Al added that its customers whose flights were canceled would get a refund, and a bus would transfer them to Ben Gurion Airport at no cost.
"El Al apologizes to its customers for the inconvenience and hopes that a solution will be found soon. El Al reiterates that safety will remain the top priority of the company."