FAA, EASA reauthorize operations at Tel Aviv for Western airlines

posted at 8:41 am on July 24, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

After two days of suspended operations, the US and European regulators for commercial airlines have given a green light for carriers to return to full schedules at Tel Aviv’s airport. The FAA and EASA had both issued orders not to transit through Ben Gurion Airport after a Hamas missile landed a mile from the airport earlier this week, but have now given the go-ahead to resume operations after working with the Israeli government on security concerns:

The Federal Aviation Administration announced late Wednesday that it has lifted its ban on United States flights to and from Israel.

“Before making this decision, the FAA worked with its U.S. government counterparts to assess the security situation in Israel and carefully reviewed both significant new information and measures the Government of Israel is taking to mitigate potential risks to civil aviation,” the FAA said in its statement around 11:45 p.m.

The FAA said its primary mission is the “protection of people traveling on U.S. airlines,” and it will continue monitoring the “very fluid situation” near Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv.

EASA also announced this morning that they had resolved their concerns:

They had issued their warning on Wednesday, a day after the FAA ordered American carriers to halt operations at Ben Gurion. This led to protests over what some thought were backdoor sanctions against Israel, but in both the US and EU airlines had stopped operations already even without the NOTAM. The question again will go back to the airlines, and at least American Airlines still isn’t ready to go back to Ben Gurion:

American Airlines is not ready to resume flights to Israel, even though the FAA has lifted the ban, CEO Doug Parker told CNBC on Thursday.

“The ban was just lifted,” Parker said in a “Squawk Box” interview. “We need to access that.”

He said he’s hopeful service will resume by the airline’s next scheduled flight to Tel Aviv, late Thursday from Philadelphia, “but we have to make sure, as all airlines do, that conditions are indeed stable,”

“The FAA lifting the ban is a necessary, but not a sufficient, condition,” Parker said, while pointing out that American Airlines canceled flights before the FAA put in place the ban.

The issue here wasn’t a government sanction, but corporate caution, especially in a season of air disasters. That may frustrate those who worry about handing terrorists a victory, but having a known risk present during operations creates enormous risks, both legal and moral, for any airline that chooses to operate under that threat — especially in the highly litigious US.

It appears that we can add another air disaster to the list of MH17 and the flight that crashed in Taiwan yesterday. This morning, a chartered Al Algeria flight left from Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso and was en route to Algiers for an hour when it disappeared off the radar screen. Like the Malaysia Air flight last week, the Swiftair plane flew over a conflict zone, but the disappearance happened shortly after a weather-related diversion:

An Air Algerie flight with 116 people on board has dropped off radar, prompting a search for the missing plane, the airline’s operator said Thursday.

Flight 5017 lost radar contact 50 minutes after takeoff from Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, early Thursday. It was supposed to arrive at Algiers’ Houari Boumediene Airport about four hours later.

The plane, an MD-83, was carrying 110 passengers, two pilots and four crew members. The MD-83 is part of the McDonnell Douglas MD-80 family of twin-engine, single-aisle jets.

The plane belongs to a private Spanish company, Swiftair, but it appears to have been operated by Air Algerie.

Algeria has a history of airline disasters, but also a big problem with Islamist extremists. Questions have also been raised about the age and maintenance of the aircraft, which might be an issue if the flight couldn’t avoid severe weather. It’s also possible that the plane lost communications and landed elsewhere, although by this time one would assume that someone would have gotten the message by now if that was the case.

It might also have been an air-traffic control mishap:

“The plane was not far from the Algerian frontier when the crew was asked to make a detour because of poor visibility and to prevent the risk of collision with another aircraft on the Algiers-Bamako route,” the Air Algerie source said.

“Contact was lost after the change of course.”

The possibilities are almost endless at this point, but the likelihood of a happy ending here is shrinking by the minute. We’ll update as necessary.

Update: International Business Times reports that the flight crashed in Niger due to bad weather:

The disappeared Air Algerie flight AH5017 has crashed in Niger after flying through violent storms, it has been confirmed.

Algerian television station Elnahar confirmed the plane went down due to bad weather.

The region was badly affected by violent storms and it was earlier said the plane was rerouted while it was flying over Mali.

The plane crashed after passing the capital of Niger and it is presumed all 116 people on board have been killed. The flight was said to have been found near Niamey, the capital of Niger.

Very sad news; our prayers are with the families.


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Cripe

cmsinaz on July 24, 2014 at 8:44 AM

Obama has lifted his sanctions on Israel after being called on it.

I’m sure he’s furious.

ConstantineXI on July 24, 2014 at 8:44 AM

Heres Mark,….the first minute comments on Israel’s
Airport Security:
=================

https://twitter.com/MarkRegevPMO

Mark Regev @MarkRegevPMO · 22h

Video: Me on @Morning_Joe: “Hamas is unprecedentedly isolated today in the Arab world” http://on.msnbc.com/1qzKTxa

http://www.msnbc.com/morning-joe/watch/netanyahu-spokesman-ball-in-hamas-court-311599171962

canopfor on July 24, 2014 at 8:46 AM

Planes (it seems) are falling out of the sky – I wonder if there are any links?

jake-the-goose on July 24, 2014 at 8:48 AM

Ted Cruz for President.

claudius on July 24, 2014 at 8:49 AM

Dang gg
:(

cmsinaz on July 24, 2014 at 8:53 AM

Shouldn’t there be a travel ban on Chicago?

22 shot in Chicago over 12 hours, including girl, 11, killed at sleepover

mudskipper on July 24, 2014 at 8:55 AM

Planes (it seems) are falling out of the sky – I wonder if there are any links?

jake-the-goose on July 24, 2014 at 8:48 AM

Gravity?

Man Made Global Warming, er, Global Cooling, er, Climate Change?

Black Holes?

The fact that Africa is a shithole has always BEEN a shithole, and probably always WILL be a shithole?

ConstantineXI on July 24, 2014 at 8:58 AM

Shouldn’t there be a travel ban on Chicago?

22 shot in Chicago over 12 hours, including girl, 11, killed at sleepover

mudskipper on July 24, 2014 at 8:55 AM

I noticed that there isn’t even any talk of Obama going back there to live after he’s evicted from the Spite House.

ConstantineXI on July 24, 2014 at 8:59 AM

NOTAM=Notice to Airmen.

See, I can have a short post when aviation is the topic.

HonestLib on July 24, 2014 at 9:02 AM

Looks like they found the plane :(

http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/breaking-air-algerie-flight-ah5017-crashes-niger-due-bad-weather-1458125

gophergirl on July 24, 2014 at 8:47 AM

GG: Nice work,..still nothing on my News Twitter linkys:0

canopfor on July 24, 2014 at 9:06 AM

Global warming is making the air less dense and so the airliners don’t get enough lift to keep them flying. Or you should never fly any aircraft through violent storms. Your politics, your choice!!

Deano1952 on July 24, 2014 at 9:09 AM

The fact that Africa is a shithole has always BEEN a shithole, and probably always WILL be a shithole?

ConstantineXI on July 24, 2014 at 8:58 AM

North Africa and South Africa have unique differences from the rest of Africa (and from each other). Done plenty of work in Botswana, which is now safer than South Africa.

HonestLib on July 24, 2014 at 9:11 AM

Air Algerie loses contact with flight, July 24, 2014
1m

Editor’s note:

@Reuters is reporting via an Algerian aviation official that missing flight AH5017 from Burkina Faso to Algiers has crashed. The official did not give details of where the plane was or what caused the accident. We are waiting for more firm details.

http://www.breakingnews.com/

canopfor on July 24, 2014 at 9:11 AM

canopfor on July 24, 2014 at 9:11 AM

Good morning friend..:)

PS..Thanks for the link..:)

Dire Straits on July 24, 2014 at 9:18 AM

Reuters Top News @Reuters · 41s

A missing Air Algerie flight with 110 passengers on board has crashed, according to official: http://reut.rs/1sXGpR1

https://twitter.com/Reuters/status/492297339353432064/photo/1

https://twitter.com/Reuters

canopfor on July 24, 2014 at 9:22 AM

canopfor on July 24, 2014 at 9:11 AM

Good morning friend..:)

PS..Thanks for the link..:)

Dire Straits on July 24, 2014 at 9:18 AM

Dire Straits: Good Morning , anytime:)

canopfor on July 24, 2014 at 9:22 AM

Air Algerie loses contact with flight, July 24, 2014
1m

Map: Flight path of missing Air Algerie Flight AH5017 – via @BBCNewsGraphics

https://twitter.com/BBCNewsGraphics/status/492283890569318401/photo/1

canopfor on July 24, 2014 at 9:26 AM

This led to protests over what some thought were backdoor sanctions against Israel, but in both the US and EU airlines had stopped operations already even without the NOTAM.

Is there any doubt that this was an economic sanction against the Jews? Any doubt at all?

The teachable lesson here (for Hamas) is that all they have to do is mess with Israeli air service to wreak economic damage. Especially coupled with the US simultaneously hurting Israel and giving aid to the filthy Muslims that are launching missiles from hospitals and UN schools.

Happy Nomad on July 24, 2014 at 9:29 AM

Looks like I’ll be boycotting UnAmerican Airlines.

Joseph K on July 24, 2014 at 9:31 AM

The plane belongs to a private Spanish company, Swiftair, but it appears to have been operated by Air Algerie.

I have flown on Swiftair; from Madrid to Algiers in fact. Seemed like a cheesy little fly-by-night airline at the time, and this story only reinforces my impression.

What is with all the airliners falling out of the sky lately, anyway? Feels like we’re back in the 1980s or something.

Hayabusa on July 24, 2014 at 9:37 AM

It is the methane gas from cow farts or howard stern, surely…

crosshugger on July 24, 2014 at 9:44 AM

FAA bans flights to Tel Aviv, but Ukraine is OK. Gotcha!

nazo311 on July 24, 2014 at 10:22 AM

FAA bans flights to Tel Aviv, but Ukraine is OK. Gotcha!

nazo311 on July 24, 2014 at 10:22 AM

So is Iraq.

And Baghdad is likely to fall to the caliphate at any time.

ConstantineXI on July 24, 2014 at 10:42 AM

FAA bans flights to Tel Aviv, but Ukraine is OK. Gotcha!

nazo311 on July 24, 2014 at 10:22 AM

Western Ukraine is good by the FAA, and eastern Ukraine up until the shootdown of the Malaysian jet, was good by the FAA, but the FAA had closed the airspace above Crimea and the Sea of Azov to American operators back in April. Since the shootdown, the FAA included eastern Ukraine in its no-go zone for American operators.

Notably, the “normal” route of MH17 was over the Sea of Azov.

Steve Eggleston on July 24, 2014 at 10:53 AM

The issue here wasn’t a government sanction, but corporate caution, especially in a season of air disasters.

Err, no, this was without a doubt an attempt at backdoor sanctions dressed up as “safety concerns.” As others have pointed out, flights to Iraq are still ongoing.

Doomberg on July 24, 2014 at 11:02 AM

Just reported by a local AM station – United will be headed back to Tel Aviv later today.

Steve Eggleston on July 24, 2014 at 11:03 AM

Err, no, this was without a doubt an attempt at backdoor sanctions dressed up as “safety concerns.” As others have pointed out, flights to Iraq are still ongoing.

Doomberg on July 24, 2014 at 11:02 AM

Considering that Hamas does not have the firepower to bring down a plane ala Russia in the Ukraine, this was clearly and without a doubt a heavy-handed way of trying to get Israel to blink. Obama wanted to make them cave to the terrorist’s demands and he was holding their economy hostage. It is a despicable trick that is keeping in his history as a Chicago agitator. Too bad (for him) that Israel didn’t cave. I guess he’ll have to figure out some other way to assist Hamas in killing Jews.

BTW, there are no restrictions on commercial air into Baghdad, Kabul, or Kiev. Why Tel Aviv and why now if it wasn’t an attempt at the Chicago shakedown?

Happy Nomad on July 24, 2014 at 11:39 AM

Obama has lifted his sanctions on Israel after being called on it.

I’m sure he’s furious.

ConstantineXI on July 24, 2014 at 8:44 AM

He has to be pissed at Bloomberg for making a fool of him yesterday.

slickwillie2001 on July 24, 2014 at 12:44 PM

Between the two Malaysian planes and the Algerian plane has this been the worst few months for airplane disasters since 9/11?

talkingpoints on July 24, 2014 at 2:44 PM