Air France and Germany’s two largest airlines have cancelled more flights to Tel Aviv because of continuing safety concerns amid the fighting between Israel and Hamas.
Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum has said the flight cancellations were a "great victory'' for the group.
Germany’s Lufthansa and Air Berlin extended their cancellations through to tomorrow, and Air France said it was suspending flights “until further notice”.
The European Aviation Safety Agency “strongly recommended” that airlines refrain from operating flights to and from Tel Aviv, and would “monitor the situation and advise on any update as the situation develops”.
EASA acted after the US Federal Aviation Administration prohibited US-based airlines from flying to the airport following a Hamas rocket explosion nearby.
Lufthansa said its decision applies also to its subsidiaries Germanwings, Austrian Airlines, Swiss and Brussels Airlines. In all, 20 flights from Frankfurt, Berlin, Munich, Zurich, Vienna and Brussels were cancelled for tomorrow.
The airline initially suspended flights for 36 hours through to the end of today. Those cancellations were extended because “at the current time there is no sufficiently reliable new information that would justify a resumption of air operations”, Lufthansa said.
Air Berlin said it is working in close contact with authorities and is continuing to evaluate the situation regularly to determine whether further cancellations were necessary.
Other European airlines including KLM, Alitalia and Scandinavian Airlines also cancelled flights yesterday and today, but have not yet announced their plans for tomorrow.
Polish airline LOT said it would suspend its flights to Israel until the end of July 28.
British Airways, however, said it had not cancelled any of its Tel Aviv flights and had no immediate plans to do so. The airline would not answer questions about how it had made its decision to keep flying while others were cancelling, citing security reasons.
Aviation security expert Chris Yates said British Airways would have assessed the situation with input from the intelligence services and concluded there was an acceptable level of risk.
He said this might be because the rockets from Gaza “are fairly rudimentary and can’t be targeted easily at planes in flight”.
Mr Yates said other airlines might have cancelled flights fearing the possibility that rockets could strike their plane on approach or take-off, but that Israel’s Iron Dome defence system makes that very unlikely.