British Airways Defies Advisory, Keeps Tel Aviv Service

British Airways said flights to Tel Aviv will continue as planned, defying a European Aviation Safety Agency recommendation that services to the Israeli city should be suspended following rocket attacks there.

“Safety and security are our highest priorities and we continue to monitor the situation closely,” British Airways spokesman Philip Allport said by telephone. The London-based airline is aware of EASA’s advice on halting flights, he said.

Traffic at Ben Gurion airport, Israel’s international hub, has dwindled after a rocket landed a mile away, prompting the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration to impose a ban on flights by American carriers. BA’s biggest European competitors Air France-KLM Group and Deutsche Lufthansa AG have suspended flights, as has EasyJet Plc, the biggest discount operator serving the airport. El Al Israel Airlines Ltd. vowed to keep flying and has offered to assist airlines with rebookings.

Iberia, the Spanish sister unit of British Airways, scrapped an 11 p.m. trip to Tel Aviv last night, illustrating the sometimes contradictory responses among carriers to guidance from governing bodies that remains open to interpretation.

The widespread cancellations are the first for Tel Aviv since Iraq’s Scud missile bombardment during the 1991 Persian Gulf War, according to Israel’s Aviation Authority. Increasingly sophisticated missiles fired from the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip are putting more of Israel within range.

U.S. Ban

Lufthansa has halted flights for 48 hours, while Air France says Tel Aviv operations are on indefinite hold. Wizz Air Holdings Plc, the Hungarian low-cost carrier with flights across Eastern Europe, is among many others to freeze services.

In North America, Delta Air Lines Inc. and United Airlines parent United Continental Holdings Inc. said they were suspending flights until further notice. Air Canada scrapped services to and from Israel overnight, according to a Twitter message from the carrier.

The FAA said it plans to update U.S. airlines within 24 hours on the Tel Aviv restrictions. The agency already prohibits American carriers from flying over Libya and parts of Ethiopia.

Skies over eastern Ukraine are currently closed to all operators after Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 was destroyed in a suspected missile attack, joining North Korea as the world’s only blanket no-fly zone.

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