TEL AVIV (Feb. 8)
El Al has suspended flights to Vienna because of changed security and check-in arrangements that effect El Al passengers.
Nahman Kleiman, spokesman for the Israeli air carrier, said the new system — instituted by the Austrian authorities and taking effect on Wednesday — “will impose a security threat to our passengers.”
Up till now, El Al passengers at Vienna’s Schwechat Airport carried their luggage to a security checkpoint, where it is thoroughly searched.
The procedure reduced the possibility that abandoned or unchecked baggage would be put aboard an aircraft though its owner did not board the flight.
The procedure is the same used at Ben-Gurion Airport.
Under the new system in Vienna, all passengers except those of El Al will be able to check their baggage at any of the 40 counters.
El Al passengers will be sent to a separate shed to pick up their baggage and submit it to inspection. The Austrians say there is no room at the terminal to provide El Al with a special check-in hall.
Wednesday’s flight to Vienna was canceled while El Al officials flew there to discuss the matter.
The head of Austria’s civil aviation administration, Gerhard Stabler, happens to be in Israel attending an international conference on airline security.
He was quoted by the Jerusalem Post on Wednesday as saying the El Al security system calls attention to El Al passengers, increasing chances that terrorists will shoot at them — as happened in Vienna and at Leonardo Da Vinci Airport in Rome on a single day in 1985.