JERUSALEM (Jul. 24)
A senior Israeli civil aviation official today rejected complaints by the Netherlands government over Israel’s refusal to grant the Dutch airline, KLM, additional landing rights at Lydda Airport. Naftali Ben-Yehuda, head of the Civil Aviation Authority, also accused KLM of unfair practices. He noted that Israel had agreed to a fourth KLM flight to Lydda each week which, he said, was sufficient for bona fide Dutch passengers.
Ben-Yehuda alleged that KLM was actually carrying American tourists to Lydda on flights from New York which were re-numbered at Amsterdam to create the impression that they originated there. “We discovered that three extra flights are not for their own nationals but mainly for US tourists,” he said, Ben-Yehuda’s remarks were in reply to the Netherlands Foreign Minister Norbert Schmeltzer who said yesterday that he was “seriously concerned and disappointed” by the Israeli restriction.
Schmeltzer, who visited Israel earlier this year, appeared satisfied at the time with the agreement to increase KLM flights from three to four a week. Israeli officials said they were still waiting for a reciprocal move by the Dutch government to persuade the government of the Netherlands West Indies to grant Israel’s national airline, El AI, landing rights at Curacao.