Israel’s Air Traffic Impacted By Rocket Attacks

Overnight, Israel came under a missile attack. More than 1,000 rockets were fired from Gaza, targeting major cities and the main airport of Ben Gurion. The airport closed for around an hour, and although flights have now resumed, some airlines are already canceling future services to the country.

El Al Israel planes Ben Gurion Airport
Flights have been disrupted at TLV following a night of violence. Photo: Getty Images

The worst violence in seven years

Israel is today waking up to scenes of destruction after a night of violence across the country. Militants in Gaza fired a barrage of rockets at Tel Aviv, the city of Ashkelon and at Israel’s main commercial airport, Ben Gurion (TLV).

With incoming missiles closing in on the airport, several aircraft were forced to divert to other airports or to enter a holding pattern until a safe landing could be confirmed. Over 100 rockets were fired from Gaza, and while most were intercepted by Israel’s sophisticated defense system known as the ‘Iron Dome’, some did get through.

Ethiopian Airlines flight ET404 was forced to hold over the sea for more than an hour until it could be cleared to land. Reportedly, the airport was inspecting the runway for damage following a missile strike.

Israel’s Air Traffic Impacted By Rocket Attacks
Ethiopian Airlines holding near TLV. Data:

A Lufthansa flight from Frankfurt was more than two and a half hours into its three and a half hour journey when it diverted. Rather than landing anywhere else, the A321 headed back to Germany, landing in Frankfurt over five and a half hours after taking off.

Israel’s Air Traffic Impacted By Rocket Attacks
Lufthansa’s A321 took a flight to nowhere. Data:

Other flights, such as this Lufthansa MD-11 cargo service, were diverted elsewhere. This one ended up in Cairo, although other flights are reported to have been landing in Greece and Cyprus.

Israel’s Air Traffic Impacted By Rocket Attacks
Some flights diverted to alternative airports. Data:

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Cancellations from many airlines

At one point, the airport closed entirely as it was deemed unsafe for civilian aircraft to take off or land. The airport was evacuated as sirens warned of the incoming attack. Although the airport reopened just over an hour later, several US airlines had already started canceling flights to Tel Aviv.

United, American Airlines and Delta have all canceled a number of flights due to arrive in Israel today, as well as their paired return service. With the situation in Israel still unstable, more cancellations could follow over the coming days.

Flight boards at TLV airport show that a number of Israeli airlines have canceled their services flying into Ben Gurion today. Other arriving flights have suffered delays, but most departing services appear to be taking off as normal.

Israel’s Air Traffic Impacted By Rocket Attacks
Information from Israel Airports Authority

No damage has been reported at the airport, although video footage clearly shows strikes targeted at the civilian facility. The Iron Dome is doing a good job of keeping the airport safe, but with tensions still high, another attack remains a high probability.

Ben Gurion Airport told Simple Flying,

Ben Gurion Int’l Airport continues to operate in accordance with the schedule.

We are aware of the ongoing events in our country and we are having discussions and evaluations all the time.

Should there will be changes, information will be published and NOTAM will be distributed.

If you’re due to fly to Israel in the near future, check with your airline to ensure the flight is going ahead.