Standard commercial flights out of Israel’s Ben Gurion International Airport will likely resume in early-to-mid July, airport officials said Monday.
Following the sharp decline in the number of new confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Israel, along with the drop in new fatalities, a number of foreign airlines announced plans to resume flights to Israel in June.
The airlines included Air Canada, Delta, British Airways, easyJet, Ryanair, Alitalia, and Lufthansa. Dozens of other companies have also made preliminary plans to resume operations in Israel, while Israel’s largest airline, El Al, announced last week that it was extending its own moratorium on flights until June 20th.
Now, officials at Ben Gurion International Airport, Israel’s primary air travel center, say that departures by standard commercial passenger flights will not be permitted at all during June, and will only resume sometime in July.
“At the beginning of July we expect there to be dozens of flights every day, with the goal of reaching half a million passengers per month already in September,” Shmuel Zakkai, director of Ben Gurion International Airport, said according to Israel Hayom Monday.
Zakkai added that outbound flights would not be able to resume in June, due to logistical problems which remain to be dealt with regarding the testing of incoming and outgoing passengers.
“The checks at the entrance or exit are an issue we will be dealing with, and it is a problem, since it doesn’t necessarily fit with the pace of flights. We won’t be able to flight by June 15th.”
Regular departures will only resume in July, and only to a few pre-approved “green” countries which have not seen continued spreading of the coronavirus.
“The flights will be limited to ‘green’ countries, and it will only be possible to flight to them from the beginning or middle of July. I’m talking about large numbers of passengers, of course, not the occasional single flight.”
The first countries to be green-lighted for outgoing flights from Israel are Greece, Cyprus, and Seychelles, a sparsely populated archipelago 900 miles east of Africa.
The resumption of flights abroad will be dependent on bilateral agreements between Israel and the countries in question, with agreed-upon protocols for checking passengers for the coronavirus.
United Airlines has conducted international flights to and from Ben Gurion Airport recently.