El Al cancels direct flights to South Africa

The Israeli airline scraps its route to Johannesberg amid rising tensions around ICJ genocide case


El Al, Israel's flag carrier, announced that it will cancel all direct flights between Tel Aviv and Johannesburg amid South Africa's ongoing ICJ genocide case against Israel. (Photo by JACK GUEZ/AFP via Getty Images)

Israeli flag-carrier El Al announced on Friday that it will discontinue its Tel Aviv to Johannesburg route amid South Africa’s ongoing genocide case against Israel in the Hague.

The airline attributed its decision to a steep decline in demand by Israeli travellers since the war with Hamas as well as Pretoria’s case against Israel in the International Court of Justice (ICJ). The change will come into effect at the end of March with the final flight from Tel Aviv to Johannesburg set to depart on 27 March, according to the airline’s website.

“Israelis don’t want to fly to South Africa,” an El Al spokesperson told The Times of Israel. “They are cancelling flights and planes are pretty empty… We understand it’s the situation because it was different before.”

“The fact that the Israelis don’t want to go to South Africa but do want to go to other places helps us decide that we’re pausing that route,” the spokesperson said.

Air travel both to and from Israel has diminished significantly since October 7, as numerous major airlines cancelled dozens of flights in the wake of the terrorist attacks. Due to ongoing tensions, Virgin Atlantic announced last week that all flights to and from Tel Aviv will be cancelled until 31 March, and Wizz Air, British Airways and Ryanair have also suspended or partially suspended flights to and from Tel Aviv.

El Al’s announcement came just hours before the ICJ issued its initial ruling on Pretoria’s genocide case against Israel, in which the court ordered that Israel “take all measures within its power” to prevent acts of genocide in Gaza. Though the court did not explicitly order a ceasefire, a large majority of the court’s 17-judge panel voted for urgent measures to be taken to improve the humanitarian situation in Gaza.

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