Tel Aviv is rapidly losing air links, with regional powerhouse Turkish Airlines joining a growing list of international carriers pulling out after the Israeli government vowed to aggressively counter the Hamas attacks.
(Bloomberg) — Tel Aviv is rapidly losing air links, with regional powerhouse Turkish Airlines joining a growing list of international carriers pulling out after the Israeli government vowed to aggressively counter the Hamas attacks.
Turkish Airlines flights to Israel have been halted until further notice, a spokesman for the carrier said in a post on X, the platform previously known as Twitter. The company had the second-most flights scheduled to Israel in October, according to Cirium data, behind El Al, Israel’s flagship carrier.
American Airlines Group Inc. extended its suspension of Tel Aviv flights through Dec. 4, it said Tuesday. American said it will continue working with partner airlines to assist people trying to leave the city. Finnair Oyj said it is canceling flights until March 30, while discount carrier easyJet Plc said it suspended flying to Tel Aviv and would monitor the situation “with a view to resuming some services when we can.”
The carriers follow Deutsche Lufthansa AG, Air France-KLM and other big US airlines that halted operations to Israel on Monday.
The suspensions complicate efforts by foreign tourists and business travelers to leave Israel, while also creating a bottleneck for Israeli citizens looking to return home. Germany’s Foreign Office said it was planning to operate chartered Lufthansa flights Thursday and Friday to help evacuate its citizens.
Air France said it is sending a special flight that is due to arrive in Tel Aviv at about 3:20 p.m. local time Thursday to pick up French nationals. The 381-seat Boeing Co. 777 is scheduled to arrive back in Paris on Thursday evening, according to a spokesman for the airline.
Airlines still operating to Tel Aviv are adjusting schedules so their flight crews can return directly without having to stay overnight in the city.
British Airways Pfc changed its departure times so flights leave London Heathrow in the morning rather than late afternoon. Virgin Atlantic is also continuing to fly to Israel and has extended its rebooking policy so that customers who don’t wish to fly can change or get a full refund until Nov. 4.
Gulf carriers Emirates and FlyDubai as well as Turkish carrier Pegasus are also still flying, according to Flightradar24 data.
Tel Aviv is “a small part of European networks in general,” said Alex Irving, an analyst at Bernstein. Still, airlines do business into the broader Middle East region, so there could be more disruption if the conflict spreads, he said.
Shares in major airlines recovered Tuesday, with British Airways parent IAG SA rising 2.4% and Lufthansa gaining 2.9%. Wizz Air, the most exposed European airline to Israel according to a Raymond James report, added 1% after falling more than 6% Monday. The Bloomberg World Airlines Index Airline slipped 0.3% Wednesday morning in Asia. It fell the most since March 15 on Monday.
Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion International Airport usually handles about 300 outbound flights a day, and more than a third of scheduled departures are canceled, according to Flightradar24. Popular destinations include Istanbul and Antalya in Turkey, Larnaca in Cyprus, as well as Dubai and European capitals such as Rome and Paris.
–With assistance from Danny Lee, Mary Schlangenstein and Albertina Torsoli.
(Adds information on Air France special flight and updates share prices.)
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