European airlines cancel Tel Aviv flights amid escalating conflict

UK-based Virgin Atlantic cancelled a flight there late on Wednesday

  
Image used for illustrative purpose. A screen displaying flight information and the words Riyadh and Jerusalem is seen on the Israeli carrier El Al airliner carrying Israeli and American delegates during their flight to Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates August 31, 2020.

Image used for illustrative purpose. A screen displaying flight information and the words Riyadh and Jerusalem is seen on the Israeli carrier El Al airliner carrying Israeli and American delegates during their flight to Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates August 31, 2020.

REUTERS/Nir Elias/Pool

LONDON-British Airways, Virgin Atlantic and Iberia all cancelled flights to Tel Aviv as European carriers joined U.S. airlines in avoiding flying to Israel amid an escalating conflict there.

"The safety and security of our colleagues and customers is always our top priority, and we continue to monitor the situation closely," British Airways said after cancelling its flights to and from Tel Aviv on Thursday.

UK-based Virgin Atlantic cancelled a flight there late on Wednesday and said it was reviewing whether to operate its Thursday evening flight.

Spanish airline Iberia also cancelled its flight to Tel Aviv from Madrid on Thursday and back on Friday a spokeswoman said, while Germany's Lufthansa also cancelled its flights.

"Due to the current situation in Israel, Lufthansa is suspending its flights to Tel Aviv until Friday, May 14," the airline said.

Wizz Air said it had delayed its Thursday flight from Abu Dhabi to Tel Aviv until Friday.

Emirati carrier Flydubai said it was continuing to operate daily flights from Dubai to Tel Aviv. The airline was scheduled to operate three flights on Thursday, its website showed, while a fourth night time flight was cancelled.

United Airlines, Delta Air Lines and American Airlines on Wednesday all cancelled flights between the United States and Tel Aviv. 

Virgin Atlantic had said earlier this week that bookings to Israel had soared 250% week on week after an announcement by Britain that Israel was on its "green list" for the reopening of overseas leisure travel during the COVID-19 pandemic.

But an explosion of violence, with fighting in Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip causing mounting civilian deaths, have made international airlines wary of the region. 

British airline easyJet EZJ.L said that it was not yet cancelling its flights to Tel Aviv. Its next flight there is from Berlin and not scheduled until May 16, with a service from London Luton to Tel Aviv scheduled for May 18.

"We will, of course, continue to monitor the situation," an easyJet spokeswoman said.

(Reporting by Sarah Young; additional reporting by Inti Landauro in Madrid, Christoph Steitz in Frankfurt and Alexander Cornwell in Dubai, editing by Michael Holden and Carmel Crimmins) ((sarah.young@thomsonreuters.com; +44 20 7542 1109; Reuters Messaging: sarah.young.thomsonreuters@reuters.net))


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