Concern over the impact on Israel's economy may soon die down, as several hundred flights took off for and from Europe Tuesday - for the first time in several days.
On April 14, Iceland's Eyjafjallajokull volcano erupted, leaving a cloud of ash high above Europe. Authorities cancelled all flights, for fear that the ash would enter plane engines and cause them to fail in mid-air. The dearth of flights also brought Israel's international air commerce to a grinding halt.
On Sunday, Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz mulled calling a special meeting of the Finance Ministry to discuss the impact of the phenomenon on Israel's trade and tourism. Israel's flower industry, which blooms brightly in Europe, faced major losses because the products are shipped fresh. Europe is a major international export hub for Israel.
Israel's Ministry of Industry, Trade, and Labor already conducted emergency meetings, as did the Transportation Ministry. Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz authorized non-Israeli ships in the Mediterranean to bring Israeli tourists home from Europe.
Israel's Tourism Ministry has announced that it will work to assist tourists who are stranded in the Holy Land by helping them locate needed hotels and services. Two special booklets containing information about – and highlights from – Jerusalem and Tel Aviv were planned especially for this particular brand of tourist, to be distributed by the Hotels Association.
The planes that took off from European locales Tuesday flew at low altitudes. London's Heathrow airport, the highest-traffic airport in Europe, is still closed.
Approximately 95,000 flights were canceled due to the eruption, according to the Associated Press, with losses estimated at over $1 billion. Thousands of people have been stranded all over the world as a result of the cancellations – it may take weeks to get them all home.