Lufthansa, Air France join US airlines in suspending flights to Tel Aviv

People walk in the American Airlines/US Airways Terminal at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York City on July 22, 2014. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has halted all flights from the US to Tel Aviv, Israel following a rocket attack near Ben
People walk in the American Airlines/US Airways Terminal at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York City on July 22, 2014. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has halted all flights from the US to Tel Aviv, Israel following a rocket attack near Ben Gurion International Airport. -- PHOTO: AFP

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Germany's largest airline Deutsche Lufthansa AG said on Tuesday it would suspend flights to Tel Aviv for 36 hours, citing security concerns. Moments later, Air France followed suit, joining a host of airlines that stopped service to Israel after a rocket fired from Gaza landed near Tel Aviv's international Ben Gurion airport.

Lufthansa said the suspension would also affect its Germanwings, Austrian Airlines and Swiss divisions

The French carrier said it was suspending service "until further notice" Other airlines to stop service include Germany's

Earlier on Tuesday, U.S. air carriers Delta Air Lines, American Airlines Group and United Airlines halted flights to Israel to ensure passenger safety.

Delta and United said in separate statements that they have suspended flights to and from Tel Aviv "until further notice."

Atlanta-based Delta said it was operating in coordination with the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration "to ensure the safety of our customers and employees."

The flight stoppages came after Hamas, the militant group that dominates in the Gaza Strip, and its allies fired more rockets into Israel, triggering sirens in Tel Aviv. One hit a town on the fringes of Ben-Gurion International Airport, lightly injuring two people, officials said.

Casey Norton, a spokesman for American Airlines, said an inbound and outbound flight operated by its US Airways unit between Philadelphia and Tel Aviv were canceled.

Esther Castiel, who heads US Airways' operations in Tel Aviv, said the FAA had "issued a request not to travel to Israel. All U.S. carriers are stopping." She added that it was not clear whether the travel halt was for one day or more. The FAA did not immediately have a comment on the matter. A spokesman for

British Airways, which flies to Tel Aviv twice daily, said its flights continue to operate as normal. Israel launched an offensive on July 8 to halt missile salvoes out of Gaza by Hamas, which was angered by a crackdown on its supporters in the occupied West Bank and suffering economic hardship because of an Israeli-Egyptian blockade. -Reuters, AFP

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