Following the recent turmoil over a flight that left passengers stranded in Athens for Shabbos, it appears El Al decided to play it safe this erev Shabbos, canceling a flight from Kiev to Tel Aviv.
Passengers on flight 2652, which was scheduled to take off on Friday from Kiev Airport to Ben Gurion Airport, were compelled to spend Shabbos in a local hotel due to a malfunction with the plane. The problem first led to a delayed takeoff and ultimately, El Al officials realized the flight might not get to Tel Aviv before Shabbos and the decision was made to put up the passengers in a hotel for Shabbos rather than risk a 2nd ‘Shabbos flight’.
The flight was supposed to take off at 10:00AM, and after numerous delays, a number of chareidi women who were on the flight asked to get off, not wishing to be on a flight that lands after or too close to Shabbos.
The captain informed passengers that due to the fact that it would not be possible to land in Israel before Shabbos, all passengers would be forced to stay at a local hotel for Shabbos and they would return to the airport on motzei Shabbos.
“Following a technical malfunction that was discovered on the plane before taking off from Kiev, Flight 2652 from Kiev to Tel Aviv was postponed until tomorrow evening, and all the passengers are being cared for by EL AL representatives and will stay at a hotel in the city,” said El Al, who apparently learned from the storm of the first Shabbos flight. “We apologize for the inconvenience caused to our customers,” the message concluded.
Guy Shir, one of the passengers on the flight, told Ynet that “the flight did not leave because even if they had landed in Israel before Shabbos, Shomer Shabbos passengers would not have been able to get to their home before Shabbos started.”
According to him, they decided to stay here. El Al’s plane crew was fantastic, but all the ground crew’s conduct was awful – we stand here like sheep to the slaughter, people marched into a room in rows, it was prohibited to bring in duty free items, and all kinds of nonsense. They put us, 150 people outside a door, and we waited.”
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)