JERUSALEM (Feb. 24)
No airmail from Europe arrived in Israel today despite assurances from several airlines that deliveries would continue. At least a dozen international carriers suspended mall and cargo service to Israel following last Saturday’s fatal crash of a Swiss air Jet. The airlines said the measure was temporary and several announced yesterday that they were rescinding the ban. But planes of the West German Lufthansa, the British BEA and Swiss air landed at Lydda Airport today minus their mail bags. The captain of the Swiss air flight refused to take outgoing mall but agreed when informed by postal authorities that he was acting contrary to his company’s instructions.
Passenger traffic to and from Israel was unaffected by the air transport crisis. Local agents for major airlines, solicited by the Ministry of Transport, said there was no rush to cancel flight reservations to Israel. Planes leaving Israel are booked to capacity. Incoming planes are less than full. This was attributed to the seasonal lag although only yesterday the Ministry of Tourism announced that a record number of tourists arrived in Israel during the first six weeks of the new year. Lydda Airport reported yesterday that incoming air freight and mail was about normal despite the suspension of cargo and mall service. Airport officials said that strangely enough, airlines that had announced a ban continued to deliver freight and mails while others that made no announcement suspended deliveries. Israel made strong representations to the International Postal Union yesterday against any delays in foreign mall deliveries. The Israeli spokesmen pointed out that IPU statutes require all signatory countries to forward foreign malls with the greatest possible speed.