British Airways said on Wednesday it would suspend all of its flights to Tel Aviv after it diverted a flight from London back to Britain due to security concerns in Israel.
Israel’s airports authority said there was no security threat at the airport at the time. Governments and airlines have sought to add flights from Israel to evacuate their country’s citizens, while others have sought to fly reservists back into Israel.
Aviation authorities have cautioned airlines flying into Israel but haven’t grounded flights altogether, with some experts warning that the current airspace situation was risky due to ongoing rocket attacks.
“Safety is always our highest priority and we’ve taken the decision to return our Tel Aviv flight to Heathrow (Airport),” a spokesperson for British Airways said.
British Airways had operated a single daily flight to Tel Aviv before the suspension, according to flight tracking website FlightRadar.
Since the surprise attack by Palestinian militant group Hamas on Israel on Saturday, many international airlines have suspended flights to and from Tel Aviv.
A spokesperson for Israel’s airports authority said rockets were flying around Tel Aviv at the time but were not an immediate threat to the flight or to Ben Gurion Airport.
She said the diversion back to Britain was the pilot’s decision and that no other flights were diverted.
With British Airways’ suspension, no IAG-owned (ICAG.L) airlines are now offering flights to Tel Aviv, a spokesperson for the group said.
Flightradar showed the flight in question, BA165, had almost reached Tel Aviv before beginning its return to London.
Reporting by Sarah Young and Joanna Plucinska, writing by Sachin Ravikumar; Editing by Bernadette Baum, Jonathan Oatis and Rod Nickel