Ben Gurion airport hasn't been crowded for a long time but this morning, the start of a new week after the ceasefire with Hamas, thousands of passengers flew in and out of Israel. 18,000 passengers are expected to pass through Ben Gurion airport today - double the average number during the fighting of the past two weeks - with 10,000 people taking off and 8,000 landing.
This number is still only one third of the daily average before the Covid-19 pandemic but it is still far higher than in recent months, in part because people cancelled flights in and out of Israel during Operation Guardians of the Wall, creating a bottleneck of people stranded in Israel or abroad, which has been released today.
Over the weekend many of the foreign airlines, who suspended flights during the fighting, have resumed Israel operations. El Al Israel Airlines Ltd. (TASE: ELAL), which enjoyed a monopoly on many routes, especially to the US, has increased its number of flights and 50% of the passengers flying out of the airport today will be flying El Al, while 3,000 of the 8,000 taking off will be on El Al planes.
There are 134 flights coming in and out of Ben Gurion airport today, of which 47 are El Al flights. Israir Airlines and Tourism Ltd. will operate 17 flights today with 1,700 passengers and Arkia Airlines Ltd. will operate six flights with 580 passengers.
Of the foreign airlines on the arrival and departure boards: Turkish Airlines will operate nine flights with 1,140 passengers; Delta Airlines will have two flights landing in Israel today and three flights taking off for New York; United Airlines will fly 1,070 passengers on four flights; and Wizz Air will operate six flights for 900 passengers.
The airlines and Israel Airports Authority are pressing the Ministry of Health to ease instructions about the need for passengers to maintain two meters from each other, due to the low infection rate in Israel, and which is anyway not observed when the airport is crowded.
Israir CEO Uri Sirkis claims that the restrictions create major overcrowding and cause longer lines and a longer stay in the passenger halls than necessary. He wrote to the Ministry of Health, "Keeping distance from each other means that a larger number of passengers remain in airport areas at the same time for longer than required."
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on May 23, 2021
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