The Federal Aviation Administration ordered all U.S. airlines to suspend flights to and from Israel’s Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv “for a period of up to 24 hours” on Tuesday.
The notice to airmen was issued in response to reports of a rocket strike that landed just one mile from Tel Aviv’s airport earlier in the day.
“The FAA immediately notified U.S. carriers when the agency learned of the rocket strike and informed them that the agency was finalizing" the bulletin, the FAA said in a statement. The FAA said its recommendation “applies only to U.S. operators, and has no authority over foreign airlines operating to or from the airport.”
Several U.S. carriers, including United, said they decided to cancel flights to and from Israel after the FAA’s warning Tuesday.
The cancellation of flights comes one day after the U.S. State Department recommended that Americans postpone nonessential travel to Israel, the West Bank and Gaza, citing hostilities in the region. International air travel has come under scrutiny after a Malaysia Airlines plane was shot down by a missile over the Ukraine on Thursday, killing all 298 people aboard.
Delta Air Lines Inc. (NYSE:DAL) diverted DL Flight 468, en route from New York to Tel Aviv, to Paris on Tuesday after reports of a rocket firing near the airport in Tel Aviv. The Boeing 747 was carrying 273 passengers and 13 crew members. The airline has indefinitely suspended all flights to and from Tel Aviv and its hub at New York’s JFK International Airport.
Delta said in a statement it was “doing so to ensure the safety and security of our customers and employees.” The carrier added that the move was in cooperation with the FAA.
United Continental Holdings Inc. (NYSE:UAL), which operates United Airlines, said it also suspended all Tel Aviv flights until further notice. “We are working with government officials to ensure the safety of our customers and our employees and will continue to evaluate the situation," spokeswoman Jennifer Dohm said in an email statement.
United canceled two of its flights bound for Tel Aviv from Newark on Tuesday. Flight tracking website FlightAware.com shows that UA Flight 84 and UA Flight 90 have both been canceled.
US Airways, which is owned by American Airlines Group Inc. (NASDAQ:AAL), also canceled a flight to Israel on Tuesday. Flight 796, which left Los Angeles Tuesday morning, stopped in Philadelphia. The plane was bound for Tel Aviv on Tuesday night, but it was grounded by the airline. The carrier hasn't confirmed whether all service to Israel has been suspended.
European airlines including Lufthansa, Swissair and Austrian Airlines said they would stop Israel-bound flights for 36 hours, according to website PzFeed's Twitter account. Air Canada also said it would halt flights, the Wall Street Journal reported.