American Airlines has postponed its highly anticipated return to Tel Aviv, moving the resumption date to late October, a significant delay from the initially planned May restart. The decision follows the suspension of flights to Ben Gurion International Airport due to the outbreak of the Israel-Hamas conflict in October 2023, affecting numerous international carriers' operations to Israel.
Timeline of Delays
Initially, American Airlines aimed for a brief suspension following the conflict's start, with plans to pause flights from New York's JFK to Tel Aviv until early December. However, as the situation extended, so did the suspension, with multiple reschedule dates, including a March target that shifted to May, and now, a further push to October 26th.
Factors Behind the Decision
The ongoing delay reflects concerns over security, demand, and operational constraints, including a widebody aircraft shortage exacerbated by the pandemic's impact on the airline's fleet. This shortage has led American Airlines to repurpose its available capacity towards routes with higher demand, such as adding a second daily flight from JFK to Rome.
Operational Plans and Adjustments
Upon resumption, the flights, designated as AA146, will operate daily, using Boeing 777s with a capacity for 273 passengers. The service will offer a direct connection between New York and Tel Aviv, with a scheduled nighttime departure and next-day afternoon arrival, adjusting for daylight saving time changes.
Comparative Airline Responses
While American Airlines opts for a cautious approach, competitors like Air France, Ethiopian Airlines, and Lufthansa have already resumed their services to Israel. British Airways, too, has restarted flights, introducing a smaller aircraft and a Cyprus stopover to adapt to the security situation and maintain operational flexibility.
American Airlines' Commitment to Flexibility
Acknowledging the inconvenience and uncertainty for travelers, American Airlines emphasizes its commitment to customer and crew safety, offering flexible rebooking options, cancellations, and refunds for affected passengers. The airline continues to collaborate with partner carriers to facilitate travel between Israel and the US, ensuring alternatives are available despite the delayed return to Tel Aviv.