March 10, 2020 / 7:09 AM / 20 days ago

Israel's El Al delays launch of new routes to Chicago, Tokyo

TEL AVIV, March 10 (Reuters) - El Al Israel Airlines said it will postpone the launch of new routes to Chicago, Tokyo and Düsseldorf until the summer after the Israeli government tightened travel restrictions to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Israel will require anyone arriving from overseas to self-quarantine for 14 days as a precaution against the spread of coronavirus, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday.

“EL AL will perform immediate commercial adjustments as a result of Israeli government directives dealing with the coronavirus and the sweeping recommendation for Israeli citizens to consider travel abroad in general,” the airline said.

It has already suspended flights to Italy, China, Hong Kong and Thailand. Several airlines including the Lufthansa Group have halted flights to Israel.

The launch of the Chicago route will be postponed to June 28, the Tokyo route to August 29 and Düsseldorf to July 3.

“El Al has a huge responsibility in maintaining air routes to and from Israel during emergencies and will therefore continue to operate flights to the United States, Canada, Europe and Africa, according to demand and need,” El Al CEO Gonen Usishkin said. (Reporting by Tova Cohen, Editing by Ari Rabinovitch)

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