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Israel flight ban hits troubled sector

Wednesday, July 23, 2014 - 02:11

Israel's rejection of a European and U.S. decision to halt flights to Tel Aviv as unnecessary leaves investors in the aviation sector wondering whether the ban is a sensible precaution, overreaction, or a politically motivated move initiated by the U.S. David Pollard reports.

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Flight cancelled? Usually a reason to moan. On this occasion, these stranded passengers at Frankfurt airport didn't do that, when being asked if the cancellations were justified. (SOUNDBITE) (German) TRAVELLER, (NO FIRST NAME GIVEN) SCHMIDT, SAYING: "In light of the shot down plane in Ukraine, I would say yes" Israel doesn't agree. Lufthansa, Swiss, Air France and other European airlines suspended flights to Tel Aviv for 36 hours - following their US counterparts, United, Delta and American Airlines. A directive from the US Federal Aviation Authority cited security concerns - driven by Hamas firing more rockets into Israel on Tuesday - one coming down close to Ben Gurion airport. The directive wasn't warranted, according to Israeli Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz. (SOUNDBITE) (Hebrew) ISRAELI TRANSPORTATION MINISTER YISRAEL KATZ SAYING: "There wasn't any reason to halt flights from and to Ben Gurion airport, since Ben Gurion airport is secure and completely safe." And in Washington too there were questions over the ban - a State Department spokesperson quizzed on whether recent US travel advisories on Israel were motivated by political concerns. (SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT DEPUTY SPOKESPERSON MARIE HARF SAYING: "There's no specific reason why this timing was selected. It's because of the ongoing hostilities. We wanted to put the warning out." The timing couldn't be much worse for the aviation sector. The downing of flight MH17 over Ukraine drawing an unwelcome spotlight on a sector beset by issues. Climate, overcapacity, high fuel prices and its own structural issues - and now - again - security. And, says independent aviation consultant John Strickland, the sector's own response to those issues. (SOUNDBITE) (English) JOHN STRICKLAND, INDEPENDENT AVIATION CONSULTANT, SAYING: ''We are hearing leading industry voices, for example Sir Tim Clark from Emirates Airlines, saying airlines do now need to get round the table so that the industry can find a more coherent approach to these many and varied threats which it has to face day to day and there is a need for the industry to speak with one voice so that there's a coherence of approach.'' One who did land safely at Ben Gurion airport: US secretary of state John Kerry on his latest diplomatic push. An unannounced visit - and a sign that as Israel's offensive against the Gaza Strip enters its third week, pressure to end hostilities is on the rise.

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Israel flight ban hits troubled sector

Wednesday, July 23, 2014 - 02:11

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