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Asian airlines suspend Tel Aviv flights amid Israel-Hamas conflict

Flights Cancelled

Asian airlines, including Hainan, Cathay Pacific, and Korean Air, are leading the industry in cancelling flights to Tel Aviv due to escalating Israel-Hamas violence.

In light of the escalating violence between Israel and Hamas, airlines worldwide are reevaluating their operations, with a consequential impact on flights to Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion International Airport. Notably, Asian airlines like China’s Hainan Airlines, Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific, and South Korea’s Korean Air are making significant adjustments to their flight schedules, underscoring the industry’s cautious approach to the volatile situation.

Hainan Airlines has suspended its regular direct flights from Shanghai to Tel Aviv. Cathay Pacific has also followed suit, canceling its Hong Kong to Tel Aviv route and indicating that updates on future flights will be provided later in the week.

Korean Air has taken a similar approach, canceling its Incheon to Tel Aviv flight for the day and anticipating further disruptions to its schedule. The Asian airlines’ swift and decisive actions reflect a broad industry trend towards prioritizing passenger and crew safety in unstable geopolitical situations.

Disruption to Ben Gurion International Airport

As of last Saturday, data shows that 16% of flights to Ben Gurion International Airport have been canceled, while an additional 23% have been delayed. The ripple effect has been widespread, causing disruptions for both passengers and the broader travel and hospitality sectors.

Flexibility from El Al

El Al, Israel’s national airline, is mitigating the impact on passengers by offering flexibility in booking options. They’ve instituted an emergency hotline and are allowing cancellations and rebooking without additional charges, offering vouchers for future travel as an alternative.

American and European Airlines’ Response

Airlines like American Airlines, Air France, Lufthansa, and Emirates have also suspended operations to Tel Aviv. Some flights have even been rerouted mid-air; for example, a United Airlines flight from San Francisco to Tel Aviv was diverted over Greenland, ultimately returning to its point of departure. Lufthansa Group Airlines and Air France have released statements emphasizing the paramount importance of safety, stressing their ongoing assessment of the security situation.

Industry-Wide Impact

The ongoing conflict is not only affecting travel schedules but also leads to operational challenges for airlines, disrupting the international travel ecosystem and drawing attention to the ever-important role of risk assessment in aviation operations.

For travel and hospitality professionals, understanding these disruptions can be key to the realignment of both short-term strategies and long-term plans. These schedule changes underscore the industry’s vulnerability to geopolitical instabilities and stress the importance of robust crisis management protocols.

By taking swift action to cancel or delay flights, airlines worldwide, particularly those based in Asia, are displaying a heightened sensitivity to geopolitical risks. Their actions serve as a model for how to navigate complex, rapidly evolving challenges in today’s travel landscape.

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George, in his capacity as an intern, diligently oversees the flow of news, assists in the publication of content, and delves into the strategies of social media distribution. He is currently pursuing his studies in Business Administration at the Athens University of Economics and Business.