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Gaza conflict: Air Canada Flight AC84 lands in Tel Aviv after circling

An Air Canada flight from Toronto to Tel Aviv had to circle before landing Friday until the area could be confirmed as safe for landing, the airline confirmed today.

Flight arrives safely after flights to Israel resume amid Hamas attempts to attack airport

Air Canada resumed flights to Tel Aviv starting Thursday night. On Friday, the airline confirmed a flight from Toronto to Tel Aviv circled before landing 'until airspace conditions could be confirmed as safe for landing.' (Andrew Vaughan/Canadian Press)

An Air Canada flight from Toronto to Tel Aviv had to circle before landing today until the area could be confirmed as safe, the airline said today.

Earlier Friday, online flight trackers showed that Air Canada Flight AC84 circled over Tel Aviv before landing.

Air Canada confirmed that. 

"Five miles prior to landing at Tel Aviv airport this morning (July 25), our Flight AC84 originating from Toronto was advised by Israeli Air Traffic Control (ATC) to perform a standard go-around until airspace conditions could be confirmed as safe for landing," Air Canada said in an email.

"Our pilots altered course following ATC's instructions and landed 10 minutes later safely, without incident, at 12:07 local. The return Flight AC85 to Toronto departed at 13.59."

The flight left at 6:17 p.m. ET Thursday and landed safely at Ben Gurion International Airport, only two minutes late, according to Flight Track. The scheduled landing was 12:05 p.m.

Air Canada said it plans to operate Friday night's Flight AC84 to Tel Aviv as scheduled.

The airline's experience Friday may not have been unusual.

"Flights have been told to circle over the Mediterranean to wait for several weeks now," CBC correspondent Sasa Petricic said from Jerusalem. "It happened to me and several others I know. The patterns have also been moved so that planes fly in from the north."

3 rockets fired at airport

There were reports that a Hamas military wing in Gaza had fired three rockets at the Tel Aviv airport earlier Friday. There was no indication they landed, however. Israel's Iron Dome defence system has been effective at knocking down most Hamas rockets fired at the country.

Air Canada resumed its Tel Aviv flights Thursday after the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration lifted its ban on all flights to Ben Gurion airport late Wednesday.

"This decision is based on our own assessment, and that of regulators of the situation and in consultation with others in the airline community," Air Canada had said in a statement Thursday morning.

"The safety of our passengers and crew is our first priority and we will continue to monitor developments very closely."

The FAA lifted a ban on U.S. flights to Israel's Ben Gurion International Airport late Wednesday night, despite ongoing fighting in Gaza. (Finbarr O'Reilly/Reuters)

On Thursday, the German flag carrier Lufthansa extended its ban on flights to Tel Aviv, saying it would resume "as soon as the protection of the airport is assured in a tangible manner."

U.S. airlines have for the most part resumed flights to Tel Aviv. And Egypt's Air Sinai is continuing to fly into Tel Aviv, which is being interpreted in the region as a message of official disdain to Hamas, the Israeli business newspaper Calcalist reported on its website.

Regarding its earlier lifting of the ban, the FAA said: "Before making this decision, the FAA worked with its U.S. government counterparts to assess the security situation in Israel and carefully reviewed both significant new information and measures the government of Israel is taking to mitigate potential risks to civil aviation."

The ban was initially instituted on Tuesday, after a rocket hit about two kilometres from the boundaries of the airport. The FAA extended that ban for a second day earlier on Wednesday.

On both Tuesday and Wednesday, Air Canada, the only Canadian carrier that flies to Israel, cancelled its daily flight from Toronto to Tel Aviv.

Corrections

  • An earlier version of this story, citing Al-Jazeera, said the plane circled southern Israel. In fact, it circled Tel Aviv.
    Jul 25, 2014 3:47 PM ET

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