Arrivals at Ben Gurion Aiport wearing protective face masks
Arrivals at Ben Gurion Aiport wearing protective face masks
Photo: AFP
Arrivals at Ben Gurion Aiport wearing protective face masks

Coronavirus set to keep globe-trotting Israelis at home for now

The possibility of flights resuming in the coming months seems slim, but travel businesses push for Airport Authority to mandate a quick testing process for passengers and employees to restart damaged industry

Iris Lifshitz Klieger |
Published: 06.16.20 , 13:17
Despite various announcements by airline companies regarding the renewal of flights to Tel Aviv, in reality, such a scenario seems currently rather far-fetched.
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  • For example, those who wish to fly to Cyprus for vacation, must present a negative coronavirus test that was conducted 72 hours or less ahead of arrival.
    Arrivals at Ben Gurion Aiport wearing protective face masks Arrivals at Ben Gurion Aiport wearing protective face masks
    Arrivals at Ben Gurion Aiport wearing protective face masks
    (Photo: AFP)
    The problem is that even if a person does take the test, no one can guarantee that the results will arrive within 72 hours.
    Even then, there are still the possibilities of the flight being canceled, the visiting nation mandating a 14-day quarantine for arrivals or having to enter the same time period upon returning to Israel.
    As it stands, it is unlikely anyone will be able to fly to a vacation abroad before September.
    Until a decision is made by Airport Authority to conduct quick coronavirus tests for passengers – a type of testing yet to be available in Israel – before boarding and after landing, the country's skies will remain closed.
    Airport workers checking passengers' temperatures Airport workers checking passengers' temperatures
    Airport workers checking passengers' temperatures
    (Photo: Yariv Katz)
    "I hope that decision-makers will approve this sort of testing as soon as possible," said Alon Ketzef, President of PassportCard group.
    Several officials within the Airport Authority have also affirmed that no solution has yet to be approved regarding testing throughout the flight process for both passengers and airline employees.
    These officials also stated that the renewal of flights can only occur once a testing lab can be built at Ben Gurion Airport, and that testing, which will be paid for by the passengers, comes at a reasonable price.
    Yaakov Amsalem, CEO and owner of Amsalem Tours, said that "just as humanity has dealt with terrorist threats and made flights safer security-wise, same should be done against infectious diseases."
    "Sure, it will need vast logistical preparations and people to arrive at the airport four hours ahead of their flight," said Amsalem.
    An employee disinfects surfaces at a counter in the departures terminal at Ben Gurion Airport An employee disinfects surfaces at a counter in the departures terminal at Ben Gurion Airport
    An employee disinfects a counter in the departures terminal at Ben Gurion Airport
    (Photo: Reuters)
    "But I believe the public will understand and welcome these arrangements," said Amsalem. "The result of this is clear: passengers boarding the planes are healthy and don't need to be quarantined and the tourism and flight industry could get back on track."
    He stressed that Israel has come across a "great opportunity to be a world innovator in sterile flights."
    "The government must authorize regulations in line with this thinking immediately," he said.

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