Following the suspension of flights due to the coronavirus pandemic, three airlines have begun service to Israel again. Delta Air Lines, Air Canada and Lufthansa have all operated previously suspended services to Ben Gurion Airport, despite the ban on non-Israelis entering the country still being in place.
Three airlines return
Israel has seen limited air service for some weeks since the country closed its borders to all non-Israelis in March. Despite this, some carriers continued to operate, including United Airlines. United maintained its daily flight from Newark to Tel Aviv throughout the crisis.
Now, it has been joined by three major full-service airlines. Delta Air Lines, Air Canada and Lufthansa all touched down in the past few days for the first time in several weeks. All had promised to restart flights this week and clearly made good on that promise.
Delta Air Lines flight DL234 from New York touched down in Tel Aviv at 17:12 local on June 3rd. It was the first time the airline had flown this route since March 28th. The return flight has already landed in New York and is set to hop over to Los Angeles and back before heading out to Israel again on June 6th.
Air Canada has been maintaining a three times a week service to Tel Aviv from Montreal but had ceased flying from Toronto in March. When its 787 Dreamliner touched down on June 2nd, it marked the first flight from Toronto since March 16th. Air Canada flight AC80 arrived at Ben Gurion at 10:09 local.
Lufthansa, too, joined in with the return to Israel, touching down on June 3rd for the first time since March 4th. LH680 is a thrice-weekly service from Munich, currently operated by an Airbus A319. It arrived in Israel at 17:01 local, following a three and a half hour flight.
Delta will operate flights four times a week on Saturdays, Sundays, Mondays, and Thursdays. Lufthansa will provide six flights a week, three from each of Frankfurt and Munich. However, passengers must be Israeli citizens if they want to enter the country.
Trouble at the airport?
Although the sight of major carriers resuming their previously suspended services will be welcomed in Israel, the aviation industry there is not without its issues. This afternoon, air traffic at Ben Gurion Airport was brought to a standstill as workers conducted a brief strike in protest of lost wages.
The airport put around 2,500 workers on unpaid leave in March but called most of them back this week as services began to ramp up again. However, these workers are unhappy that compensation be paid for the wages they lost during that period. Israel Airports Authority (IAA) workers union spokesperson Gali Gabbay told the Daily Sabah,
“The workers that were placed on unpaid have now stopped receiving unemployment benefits. We need the government to find a leave solution.”
After approximately two hours, the dramatic strike action was postponed, and services have now got back to normal. The IAA plans to meet with Regev and Finance Minister Israel Katz on Monday to discuss the situation.
It’s not the first time the workers union has undertaken drastic action to get attention. A source told Simple Flying,
“El Al’s management last week met with the transportation unions. The meeting was crashed by angry staff who trashed the room, throwing tables and furniture around. This was seen as a sign that no agreement can be reached.”
With scheduled flight services beginning to ramp up again, Israel could do with getting to grips with the workers’ unions issues. Airlines will want to be confident that there will be no disruption to the services they’re restarting, so a swift agreement will be crucial for Israel.
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