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FAA lifts ban on US flights to Tel Aviv airport

Published on NewsOK Modified: July 24, 2014 at 3:08 pm •  Published: July 24, 2014
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WASHINGTON (AP) — The Federal Aviation Administration has lifted its ban on U.S. flights in and out of Israel.

The end of the ban, which the agency had imposed out of concern for the risk of planes being hit by Hamas rockets, was effective at 11:45 p.m. EDT Wednesday.

"Before making this decision, the FAA worked with its U.S. government counterparts to assess the security situation in Israel and carefully reviewed both significant new information and measures the government of Israel is taking to mitigate potential risks to civil aviation," the FAA said. "The agency will continue to closely monitor the very fluid situation around Ben Gurion Airport and will take additional actions as necessary."

The FAA instituted a 24-hour prohibition Tuesday in response to a rocket strike that landed about a mile from Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv. The directive, which was extended Wednesday, applied only to U.S. carriers.

United Airlines, which has two daily flights from Newark, New Jersey, to Tel Aviv, said Thursday: "We intend to resume service. We're now reviewing when we can do so."

American Airlines — parent company of US Airways, which has one daily flight from Philadelphia to Tel Aviv — said: "We are in the process of assessing the situation and will make a decision as soon as possible on when to resume service. Other factors will be considered before we resume — the most important being the safety of our crew and our passengers."

The FAA has no authority over foreign airlines operating in Israel, although the European Aviation Safety Agency recommended Tuesday that airlines refrain from operating flights to and from Tel Aviv. EASA lifted that advisory Thursday, recommending that national authorities base decisions on flying to Ben Gurion "on thorough risk assessments, in particular using risk analysis made by operators."

The FAA's flight ban was criticized by the Israeli government and by Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, who questioned whether President Barack Obama used a federal agency to impose an economic boycott on Israel.

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