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British Airways halts Tel Aviv flights after security scare

British Airways halts Tel Aviv flights after security scare
Archive Photo: British Airways aircrafts are pictured at Heathrow Airport in London, 21 April 2010. EPA/ANDY RAIN

One of the last international airlines still flying to Israel is pulling out, after a security incident forced British Airways to divert a flight approaching Tel Aviv back home to London Heathrow.

BA Flight 165 was on its final descent into Ben Gurion airport when its pilot decided to turn around. A company spokesman said the pilot didn’t feel safe enough to land because sirens were going off. Sky News reported that Hamas rockets had targeted the airport.

The escalating conflict between Israel and Hamas after a surprise attack by the militant group last weekend has led major carriers from the US big three to Europe’s Deutsche Lufthansa AG, Air France-KLM and EasyJet Plc, to pull out of flying to the country. 

Virgin Atlantic Airways,one of the few foreign airlines still flying to Israel, said its flying was under review and no decision had been taken. 

Turkish Airlines, which provides the second-most flights to Israel behind the country’s flagship carrier, El Al, said late on Tuesday it was suspending service. Dubai’s Emirates said on Wednesday it would reduce operations to one flight daily.

The service pullbacks complicate efforts by governments to retrieve citizens stranded by the conflict and of Israelis to return home. The UK hasn’t joined other countries in repatriating citizens, relying so far on commercial flights. 

Read More: Governments Send Planes to Israel to Repatriate Citizens

Britain’s Foreign Secretary, James Cleverly said on Tuesday that while the government  “has a duty and a responsibility to support British nationals overseas” many Brits in Israel are dual nationals who consider the nation their home. He added that the UK was working closely with the aviation industry.

Data from FlightRadar24 shows that the BA flight began its descent into Tel Aviv before turning around.


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