A state of emergency was declared at Ben Gurion Airport Thursday morning – on the airport's busiest day ever. The state of emergency was lifted after an Arkia plane that had reported a major safety issue successfully returned to the tarmac – but not before causing major delays for many inbound and outbound fights.
The Arkia flight, on its way to Rhodes, reported that an emergency alert had gone off in the cockpit, indicating a problem with the hydraulic system. The 265 passengers on board were alerted to the danger, and ambulances rushed to the scene, on hand in case the worst happened. Meanwhile, the control tower directed the plane's pilots to return to the runway, keeping several other “healthy” flights in the air to accommodate the emergency landing.
In the end, the plane landed safely, and passengers were assigned other flights by Arkia. However, delays were likely throughout the rest of Thursday, which airport officials said would be Ben Gurion's busiest day ever; some 73,000 passengers and 430 flights were expected to pass through the airport on their way into and out of Israel.
On Sunday, Ben Gurion also experienced an emergency situation, when another Arkia plane was forced to make an emergency landing. A plane coming from Cyprus saw one of its engines fail, but the pilot was able to land successfully and without incident.