July 24, 2014
Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Tuesday he plans to fly to Tel Aviv on Israeli air carrier El Al. The media mogul’s announcement was a rebuke of the Obama administration, coming just hours after U.S. aviation officials barred flights there by American carriers.
Bloomberg announced his plans in a statement after the suspension of U.S. carriers traveling to Ben Gurion International Airport in the wake of a Gaza-launched rocket landing roughly a mile away.
“This evening I will be flying on El Al to Tel Aviv to show solidarity with the Israeli people and to demonstrate that it is safe to fly in and out of Israel,” Bloomberg said in the statement. “Ben Gurion is the best protected airport in the world and El Al flights have been regularly flying in and out of it safely. The flight restrictions are a mistake that hand Hamas an undeserved victory and should be lifted immediately. I strongly urge the FAA to reverse course and permit US airlines to fly to Israel.”
Bloomberg is a strong supporter of Israel. In 2003, he named a medical facility in Jerusalem in honor of his late mother.
Bloomberg is a billionaire and the owner of a jet that he has used to travel frequently to Israel over the past decade.
According to The New York Times, the last time flights to the bustling Ben Gurion hub were suspended was in 1991, as scud rockets were fired by Iraq.