El Al to halt night flights to Eilat too

Israel's flagship carrier, which recently stopped daytime service to southern resort city over safety concerns due to new landing paths, to suspend night flights too starting November 18

VIDEO - El Al Israel Airlines will halt all its flights to the southern resort city of Eilat starting November 18, after being informed by the Civil Aviation Authority on Monday that night flights from Tel will also be diverted to a new landing path.


About two months ago, Eilat suspended its daytime service to Eilat, questioning the safety of new flight paths aimed at reducing exposure to potential attacks from terrorists in nearby Egypt.


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The complete suspension of El Al flights to Eilat means that the Israir and Arkia airlines will no longer face competition from the national airline, which will likely lead to an increase in ticket prices due to the grow in demand.


Israel has taken measures in recent months to ensure that air traffic into the Red Sea town, wedged between Jordan and Egypt, could not be targeted by Islamist militants in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula.


Those steps have included occasional rerouting of daytime flights so they do not skirt the Egyptian frontier – patterns that aviation experts said forced planes to make steep turns.


Ticket prices expected to rise

El Al, which had three daily daytime flights to Eilat from Tel Aviv's Ben-Gurion Airport, said two months ago that the new landing and takeoff patterns for the resort town did not meet international aviation safety standards.


The Civil Aviation Authority and Transportation Ministry rejected the company's claims on the danger in landing in the new path, saying that the decision was made for security reasons after an examination and in full cooperation with the three airlines operating on the route, as well as in coordination with the Israel Airports Authority, Israel Air Force and international organizations.


But El Al, which had fought for operating flights to Eilat and had promised to flood the city with tourists, as well as bringing about a competition in ticket prices, insisted that the new route was dangerous and that it would not fly on it.


As the new route only applied to morning and afternoon flights at first, the company continued to offer its night flight on the old route, but clarified that once the night flights were diverted to the new path, it would completely halt its service to the city as it would not compromise on passenger safety.


On Monday, the Civil Aviation Authority said the new landing track would apply to nighttime flights as well, forcing El Al to halt all its flights to Eilat starting November 18.


El Al's market share in flights from Ben-Gurion Airport to Eilat is about 30%. The current move will lead to a drop in supply and will likely push ticket prices up.


At the moment, many flights to Eilat leave from Tel Aviv's Sde Dov Airport, but the airport is slated to shut down in about three years and all its activity will be moved to Ben-Gurion Airport.


Reuters contributed to this report



פרסום ראשון: 11.05.13, 13:18
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