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European airlines suspend more Tel Aviv flights

BERLIN (AP) — Air France and Germany’s two largest airlines on Wednesday canceled more flights to Tel Aviv because of ongoing safety concerns amid the fighting between Israel and Hamas.

Germany’s Lufthansa and Air Berlin extended their cancelations through Thursday and Air France said it was suspending its flights “until further notice.”

A arrivals flight board displays various canceled and delayed flights in Ben Gurion International airport. (AP Photo/Dan Balilty)

The European Aviation Safety Agency late Tuesday said it “strongly recommends” that airlines refrain from operating flights to and from Tel Aviv. It said it would “monitor the situation and advise on any update as the situation develops.”

EASA acted after the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration prohibited American-based airlines from flying to the airport following a Hamas rocket explosion nearby. The FAA was expected to issue a new statement later Wednesday.

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 Thursday.

The airline initially had suspended flights for 36 hours through the end of Wednesday. Those cancelations 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 cancelations were necessary.

Among other European airlines, KLM, Alitalia and Scandinavian Airlines also canceled flights Tuesday and Wednesday, but did not immediately announce their plans for Thursday flights.

Polish airline LOT said it would suspend its flights to Israel until the end of July 28.

British Airways, however, said Wednesday it has not canceled 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 canceling, citing security reasons.

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