Concern about an aerial missile attack in Syria and the warning issued by the European Organization for the Safety of Air Navigation (Eurocontrol) caused China's Hainan Airlines to cancel a flight from Shanghai scheduled to land today in Tel Aviv. The company stated that it canceled the flight because of Eurocontrol's warning yesterday. Since the flight did not reach Israel, today's flight from Tel Aviv to Shanghai was also canceled.
At this stage, the Hainan flight to Tel Aviv tonight from Beijing, due to take off at 9:00 PM, is still on schedule, but passengers are advised to watch for new announcements in case the company decides to withdraw the flight.
As a result of the cancelation, 265 passengers who did not take off to their destinations were sent to hotels and alternate flights with other airlines, including Aeroflot, Turkish Airlines, El Al, and tonight's Hainan flight to Beijing (provided that it does take off). Many Chinese passengers who were to have traveled to Israel chose to call off their trip, and their money will be refunded.
Sources inform "Globes" that the company will also compensate all of the Israeli passengers who did not take off yesterday and today at noon because of the cancelation in accordance with the Aviation Law. This law stipulates compensation of NIS 3,070 per passenger. Hainan could claim that it canceled its flight due to circumstances beyond its control, but the airline, which prides itself on its service, decided that the case justified compensation.
One noteworthy point concerns the decision by Chinese passengers to cancel their flights, following a 30% drop in the number of Chinese tourists visiting Israel in January-March. This decline is a direct response to the travel warning issued by China in January, in which it described a number of places as dangerous to visit, including Jerusalem. Chinese tourists are very attentive to warnings of this kind and government decisions, and respond accordingly.
This travel warning was withdrawn, but there is concern that the Chinese government will issue another warning that will affect both the number of tourists planning to visit Israel this summer and activity in Israel by Chinese airlines.
The Israel Ministry of Tourism believes that there is enormous potential in Chinese tourism to Israel. The ministry has adopted marketing measures in China, and is providing grants to Hainan, which is opening destinations from new routes and investing the grants in marketing measures. It now appears that the Ministry of Tourism will have to monitor the decrease in the number of visitors from China, and utilize its state ties with China to change the concept (assuming that no additional reason arises for a further travel warning).
As of now, there have been no other flight cancelations. The Israel Civil Aviation Authority emphasizes that there is no change in its instructions or flight routes to and from Tel Aviv.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on April 12, 2018
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