Israel: We'll Make Airports Safe

Intensive efforts are being made to convince the US Federal Aviation Administration not to lower Israel’s airport safety rating.

Hillel Fendel,

Intensive efforts are being made to convince the US Federal Aviation Administration not to lower Israel’s airport safety rating.

A delegation of FAA personnel has been in Israel for the past several days, checking procedures in Ben Gurion International Airport and Israel’s Civil Aviation Authority - and have come up with negative conclusions. If Israeli efforts to change the decree fail, the FAA will lower Israel’s rating from Category 1 to Category 2 next week.

This will place Israel in the same category as Indonesia, Zimbabwe, Ukraine, Honduras, Bulgaria and others.

“The Americans are seriously considering lowering our rating,” says Transportation Ministry Director-General Gideon Ritterman, “and we have to do everything we can to make sure this does not happen.”

Many steps have already been taken, says Transportation Ministry spokesman Avner Ovadiah: “The Authority has already turned all the issues in the FAA report into working plans, and they are being implemented. The top figures in the Aviation Authority have been replaced, and we are in the midst of recruiting top people for the purpose of improving our control and supervision.”

Top aviation officials acknowledge, however, that problems that have developed over the course of decades cannot be repaired so quickly.

The FAA report finds that some Israeli aviation laws are outdated and irrelevant, regulations are arbitrary and deficient, Ben Gurion suffers from a series of problems and limitations, and that Israel’s airways are crowded.

Not Only Prestige
A decision to lower Israel’s aviation rating would harm not only Israel’s prestige, but also its pockets.  The airlines’ insurance premiums would rise, leading directly to higher airfares – or to the cancellation of routes to Israel.  Another possibility is that the airlines will require special security precautions. In addition, Israeli airlines will not be allowed to add American destinations.

In the coming week, the Transportation Ministry will try to prove to the Americans that their recommendations are being taken seriously and that the problems will be fixed.





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