Monday, July 29, 2013

Aviation chief slams airlines for failing to comply with departure rules

Ben-Gurion Airport Manager Shmuel Zakai assails Air Dolomiti, Corsair after 150 passengers were left stranded in terminal.  

Aviation officials slammed airline for failing to comply with the departure slots assigned to them by Ben-Gurion Airport, even going so far as threatening to curb flights from one of the offending parties.

Ben-Gurion Airport Manager Shmuel Zakai sent a harsh letter on Monday to the executives of Italy-based Air Dolomiti and France-based Corsair after an incident last week in which about 150 passengers flying their airlines were forced to stay the night in Ben-Gurion Airport, the Israel Airports Authority (IAA) spokesman said.

While their planned flight was supposed to depart at 1 a.m. on the night in question, the plane arrived late in Israel and therefore missed its window of departure. In addition, due to the absence of a crew from either airline in the airport at the time, the passengers were forced to spend the night and the following day on the terminal's floor.

"I will not allow harm to passengers similar to the events that were experienced in the past two weeks," Zakai wrote. "Airlines that do not function according to the standards accepted in Israel will not be allowed to continue operations from Ben-Gurion Airport and all that this entails."

In his letter, Zakai demanded that the airlines maintain accuracy when it comes to the operational schedules assigned to them for exiting Ben-Gurion Airport.

"Failing to stand by operational punctuality results in harm to passengers and other airlines and it is expected from airlines to stand by operational punctuality with the passengers in mind," Zakai wrote.

Ben-Gurion Airport closes at night in the summer and winter and airlines that arrive late are therefore not permitted to open their check-in desks until three hours before their new departure time, the manager emphasized in his letter. Airlines that do not comply with these guidelines will lose their time slots for the relevant season, he added.

Along these lines, Zakai summoned for a second, unrelated incident a representative from Aegean Airlines after the company recently sold tickets to passengers for flights whose departure time did not coincide with the exit slot assigned to the airline by the airport. The company's failure to abide by these rules caused harm to both the passengers and the planning structure of the airport in terms of allocating resources, according to the IAA.

If Aegean Airlines does not provide a reasonable explanation for the incident by this coming Friday, Zakai warned the company that all of its flights from Ben-Gurion Airport will be canceled as of August 4.