Risk in Israel evacuations: Flights to Tel Aviv are too risky for airlines

Risk in Israel evacuations
Flights to Tel Aviv are too risky for airlines

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Shortly after Hamas’ attack on Israel, most international airlines suspended their regular flights to the country. The reason: Insurance companies no longer cover flights to Tel Aviv. Instead of a special flight, KLM is sending a military aircraft.

The airlines in Europe deal differently with the unclear security situation for repatriation flights from the war zone Israel. Norwegian Air canceled a special flight between Oslo and Tel Aviv at short notice, citing a lack of insurance coverage. “Insurance companies using Norwegian and some other airlines no longer cover flights to Tel Aviv,” the airline said. Meanwhile, the four Lufthansa special flights commissioned by the federal government from Frankfurt and Munich to Tel Aviv took off in the morning, according to speakers. Four more flights are planned for Friday.

An Air France plane also set off to bring French people home because of the fighting in Israel. The Dutch sister company KLM, on the other hand, canceled a special flight on Wednesday due to security concerns, and the government sent a military aircraft instead.

Most international airlines stopped regular flights to the country shortly after the attack on Israel by Hamas, which the EU has classified as a terrorist organization, at the weekend. The airlines decide this themselves based on their risk assessment. The aviation safety authorities in Israel, Europe and the USA warned airlines to be careful, but did not impose any flight bans. Ultimately, it is the pilot’s responsibility to change the flight route in the event of sudden dangers.

On Wednesday, a British Airways (BA) plane turned back shortly before Tel Aviv because of rocket fire, even though, according to the airport, Ben Gurion Airport was not threatened. The head of BA’s parent company IAG, Luis Gallego, said at a conference in Brussels that connections to Israel would be suspended for three weeks to wait for the situation to develop.

Since there are only a few regular flights from Israel left, the Israeli airline El Al is stepping in with additional flights between Tel Aviv and New York, Paris, Rome and some other European cities. The airline is maintaining its flight operations, including connections to Munich and Frankfurt, especially since many Israeli reservists fly home after being called up for military service. El Al has laser-based missile defense systems on board.

In Israel, state guarantees for airline insurance are also being discussed in view of the risky security situation. Because some insurance companies wanted to change the terms and conditions under which Israel was not previously classified as a high-risk area, said Neil Roberts, insurance expert at Lloyd’s Market Association. Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary said in Brussels that Ben Gurion Airport had asked the low-cost airline to resume some flights. The security situation is crucial for this. Since bookings for flights to Israel have collapsed, governments have to decide whether to maintain air traffic there.

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