Delta grounds flights to Israel, diverts plane to Paris

Uriel Heilman

Delta Airlines has cancelled its flights to Israel, following rocket fire near Ben-Gurion Airport. (SpaceKris /Shutterstock)

Delta Airlines has cancelled its flights to Israel, following rocket fire near Ben-Gurion Airport. (SpaceKris /Shutterstock)

NEW YORK (JTA) — Delta Airlines suspended flights into Tel Aviv until further notice and diverted a flight on its way there due to rocket fire from Gaza.

The flight en route from New York’s Kennedy Airport was sent to Paris on Tuesday after a rocket fired from Gaza struck and destroyed a home in Yehud, an Israeli town near Ben Gurion Airport. Flight 268 was carrying 273 passengers and 17 crew members.

Delta said it made the decision to suspend the flights “in coordination with the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration” and “to ensure the safety and security of our customers and employees.”

The airline is offering customers with reservations to Israel a waiver for rebooking their flights.

Other U.S. airlines servicing Israel, including United, American Airlines and U.S. Airways, did not immediately respond to JTA inquiries about whether or not they have made a decision about suspending flights to Israel.

U.S. Airways canceled its once-daily flight to Israel from Philadelphia on Tuesday, but the Wednesday flight was still listed on time as of midday Tuesday.

United listed one of its four Israel flights to Israel from Newark Liberty International Airport on Tuesday as canceled due to “aircraft availability.” The others were still listed as on time as of midday Tuesday.

A spokeswoman for El Al, the only other airline with direct flights to Israel from the United States, said it continues to maintain its normal schedule of up to five daily nonstop flights to Tel Aviv from the United States.

Korean Air suspended its flights to Tel Aviv last week.

Reuters reported that the FAA has not issued any notices regarding flights to Israel; the agency leaves such decisions to individual airlines.

Last week a Malaysian Airlines flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was downed by a missile over the conflict zone in eastern Ukraine, killing all 298 people aboard.

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