Lufthansa cancels Israel flights until the end of month over coronavirus restrictions

It comes as Israel announces further travel restrictions and El Al warns its finances will be damaged by the virus



Lufthansa is to cancel all its flights to Israel until the end of the month amid entry restrictions on European residents in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.

The airline’s decision, which covers flights by its subsidiaries Swiss and Austrian Airlines, takes effect from Sunday until the end of its winter timetable on March 28.

It came as El Al, the Israeli flag carrier, warned restrictions on travellers from five European countries would damage its financial results.

Separately, the Palestinian Authority ordered the closure of the Church of the Nativity on Thursday and banned foreign tourists from West Bank hotels after suspected coronavirus cases were found in Bethlehem.

Lufthansa said in a statement: “The extended refusal of entry of the Israeli authorities … will lead to a considerable drop in demand for flights to Israel.

“As a result, Lufthansa, SWISS and Austrian Airlines will cancel all their flights to Tel Aviv and Eilat as of Sunday 8 March 2020 for the remaining winter timetable period until 28 March.”

The Lufthansa Group of airlines offer around ten daily flights to Israel.

On Wednesday Israel announced it would start sending back travellers arriving from Germany, France, Spain, Austria and Switzerland.

It follows earlier restrictions on flights from Italy, China, Thailand and Singapore.

Flights from the UK are unaffected at this stage.

El Al had warned last week that it expected to lose up to $70 million (£54 million) in revenue between January and April because of the virus.

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