JERUSALEM (Jul. 30)
Israel’s Foreign Ministry stepped into the growing dispute between the national airlines of Israel and Holland over the lucrative tourist air traffic to Lydda Airport by disclosing today that Israel would give advance approval to only three of ten Dutch requests for special KLM flights to Lydda during the current tourist season.
The decision was conveyed to the Dutch Foreign Ministry in a letter last week. The letter said that the other requests would be considered individually. Norbert Schmeltzer, the Dutch Foreign Minister, said last week he was “seriously concerned and disappointed” by Israel’s attitude on additional KLM flights to Israel.
Israeli officials said that when KLM was granted, earlier this year, a fourth weekly flight to Lydda, it was on the understanding that “special flights,” which the Dutch had been running to Lydda during peak periods, would be ended. They said the number of such special flights topped 70 last year and that Israel was no longer prepared to approve the special flights in such large numbers.
Involved in the dispute was the question of the Dutch helping to provide landing rights at Curacao for El Al’s projected South American run, While Foreign Ministry sources here stressed that the grant of a fourth weekly flight to KLM was not conditional on success of the landing rights request for El Al at Curacao, aviation sources here said that if such Curacao rights were arranged, it would go far toward settling the dispute, Dutch officials have informed Israel that they tried but failed to persuade the Antilles government to accept the El Al request. Those officials insisted that the Antilles government was sovereign in such matters and could be persuaded but not forced.