Israel's coronavirus cabinet has approved raising the daily quota of passengers arriving at Ben Gurion airport from 600 to 2,000. However, while the airport is currently closed to all except rescue flights until February 20, the closure is expected to be extended until March 1 at least.
At present 600 people are allowed into Israel each day, providing they have special permission to enter the country. They must spend two weeks in a state-sponsored hotel, or 10 days subject to two negative Covid-19 tests.
Increasing the quota will help the Israeli government solve an embarrassing diplomatic problem with the US government, which has complained that only El Al Israel Airlines Ltd. (TASE: ELAL) is allowed to operate rescue flights from New York. With the increase in the quota United and Delta will be expected to operate flights.
The Ministry of Transport is hoping to keep United and Delta waiting until February 20 before allowing them to start the rescue flights but the US authorities are threatening to refuse El Al landing rights if the discrimination against the US carriers is not stopped and it may not be possible to wait so long.
At present the state-run hotels only have room for 600 passengers per day. But the IDF Home Command, which operates the hotels, says that there are 20 more hotels available, which can be opened immediately.
While arrivals at Ben Gurion airport are required to enter the hotels, a special committee can grant exemptions if passengers meet certain criteria.
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on February 14, 2021
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