US carriers suspend flights to Israel over rocket fears

Illustrative photo of a Delta flight (photo credit: AP/Michael Simon)

Illustrative photo of a Delta flight (photo credit: AP/Michael Simon)

Israeli officials trying to convince American counterparts to lift ban put in place after shrapnel damages home near airport

(SOURCE)  The US Federal Aviation Administration barred flights to Israel Tuesday evening for 24 hours, citing security concerns.

The notice came after US airline Delta said it was indefinitely suspending flights between the United States and Israel.

 US Airways also announced it was suspending flights, but only until Thursday.

United initially cancelled a Tuesday flight, then told all the passengers to come to the airport, then cancelled again saying the FAA prohibited them from flying, some passengers reported.

Later Tuesday, British carrier easyJet cancelled flights to Israel;  Turkish, Lufthansa, KLM, and other airlines have also suspended flights.

The US airline moves were announced hours after shrapnel from a rocket damaged a home in the central Israeli town of Yehud, which abuts Israel’s main international airport.

An Israeli soldier looks at the damage to a house following a rocket attack  from the Gaza Strip on the town of Yehud, on July 22, 2014. (photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

An Israeli soldier looks at the damage to a house following a rocket attack from the Gaza Strip on the town of Yehud, on July 22, 2014. (photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The Civil Aviation Authority is currently trying to explain to these companies that Ben Gurion remains a safe destination, the agency’s spokesperson told The Times of Israel.

Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz called on Delta and US Airways to rethink their decision to suspend service to and from Israel.

These are “proper and normal” routes, Katz said. “Ben Gurion Airport is safe — takeoffs and landings — and there is absolutely no need to be concerned about the security of planes and passengers,” he says. “There’s absolutely no reason why American airlines in particular should stop their flights and thus hand a prize to terrorism.”