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Flights Cancelled as Attacks Continue in Israel

Flights Cancelled as Attacks Continue in Israel


A newly rekindled mass conflict between the State of Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas has airlines with flights to and from the war-stricken country scrambling to cancel their flights. The conflict, which broke out on Saturday, October 7, puts the safety of commercial flights flying to and from Tel Aviv into serious question. 


El Al Boeing 777-200ER; 4X-ECC@EWR;07.02.2008/499al | Flickr
Photo: Flickr


Operational Restrictions and Mass Cancellations 


As missiles fly across Israeli airspace bound for major cities, Israel's primary and only international airport, Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion Int'l (TLV), is forced to stay open, albeit under heavy security and safety protocols for flights originating and arriving into the airport. Despite the airport remaining open, most airlines have opted to go the safe route and have canceled their flights to Tel Aviv, leaving many passengers stranded. 



Lufthansa announced on Saturday, October 7, that the airline was suspending most of their flights from Tel Aviv to Germany, citing the conflict, but that they will continue to operate their Tel Aviv to Frankfurt route on a decreased frequency. 


El Al 4X-EHB | Andrew W. Sieber | Flickr
Photo: Flickr

Throughout Saturday, most foreign airlines continued to operate flights out of Ben Gurion Airport in a bid to get their aircraft out of harm's way while still getting their passengers out of Israel, with airlines such as TAROM, Lufthansa, SWISS, and British Airways getting their planes and crews off the ground before the conflict becomes too serious for commercial aviation. 

On Saturday, October 7, the first day of the new conflict, multiple NOTAMs, which are commercial aviation advisory and warning bulletins issued to commercial pilots regarding commercial flight operations, were issued by the Civil Aviation Authority of Israel (CAAI).

Among the numerous NOTAMs, the most notable are concerning non-Israeli registered, general aviation planes and approach procedures into Ben Gurion Airport. 




From the morning of Sunday, October 8, all general aviation aircraft will be prohibited from taking off or landing at Tel Aviv Ben Gurion Airport. As well as this, commercial aircraft taking off from Tel Aviv must use a specific departure procedure to avoid flying near the current hot spots of the conflict.  


Photo: Flightradar24

For airlines wishing to continue operating flights to Tel Aviv, operational restrictions exist for non-Israeli registered aircraft at Ben Gurion Airport. Non-Israeli registered aircraft cannot stay on the ground at any Israeli airport for more than 48 hours. They cannot refuel with passengers onboard either, making it even harder for commercial aviation operations in the country. 


Besides a few very limited exceptions, only Israeli Airlines will be operating flights to Israel in the near future.


EL AL 4X-EAE | צילום: זיגי נגראה | EL AL Airlines | Flickr
Photo: Flickr


Conflict is not a factor that deters Israeli carriers from operating flights. Since 2004, the Israeli government has required international and domestic Israeli Airlines to fly with a missile defense system onboard. The systems defend against MANPADS, which are shoulder-launched heat-seeking missiles.




MANPAD missiles are a serious threat to commercial and VIP aircraft. After a close-call incident with an Arkia Israeli Airlines 757 and heat-seeking missiles in 2002, the pace of development of commercial aircraft defense systems has skyrocketed while privatized carriers within the country, such as Israel Arkia Airlines, can choose their type of missile defense system, El Al Israel, the national airline of the country, is required to use a system picked by the Israeli Ministry of Transportation to protect all El Al aircraft from possible missile attacks. 


Photo: Michael Hai | AeroXplorer


The Elbit's C-MUSIC system is the missile defense system selected for and currently used by El Al Israel Airlines. This system was installed in early 2020, with El Al Israel's entire Boeing fleet - 737, 747, 767, 777, and 787 - being equipped with the advanced system. This C-MUSIC system utilized lasers to throw off MANPAD missiles' heat-seeking sensors, confusing the missile and sending it off course.




While this new Israeli-Palestinian conflict is still developing, its effect on commercial aviation has been enormous, and the impact of this will continue to play out over the next few weeks. 

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Adam Schupak
Hey there! I'm Adam, a passionate avgeek absolutely obsessed with everything that flies. I'm a student glider pilot, but have the ultimate ambition of become a commercial airline pilot. Besides aviation, I'm also passionate about urban design, civil engineering, and trains.

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