El Al Israel Airlines has decided to suspend its Johannesburg route from the end of March 2024, following a significant drop in demand amid escalating diplomatic tensions with South Africa.
No more El Al Israel flights to Johannesburg, airline confirms
This decision comes after South Africa accused Israel of genocide at the International Court of Justice (ICJ), leading to strained relations between the two countries.
“Israelis don’t want to fly to South Africa,” an El Al spokesperson said, citing the decrease in demand as a primary reason for the suspension.
“They are cancelling flights, and planes are pretty empty … We understand it’s the situation because it was different before. The fact that the Israelis don’t want to go to South Africa but do want to go to other places helps us decide that we’re pausing that route,” she added.
The airline also referenced the current security situation as a contributing factor.
The announcement was made hours before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) was expected to issue an initial ruling on Pretoria’s case against Israel over alleged genocidal acts in Gaza.
This legal development has further fueled the diplomatic strain between Israel and South Africa.
The final El Al flight from Tel Aviv to Johannesburg is scheduled for 27 March 2024, according to the airline’s website.
The discontinuation of this route is the latest twist in the ongoing Israel-Hamas war that erupted on 7 October 2023.
The case brought by South Africa at the ICJ is part of a wider international debate on Israel’s actions in Gaza.
UN judges are set to rule on South Africa’s request for emergency measures against Israel, including halting military operations in Gaza.
After the attack on Israel by the Islamist group Hamas, which resulted in significant casualties and abductions, Israel responded heavily in Gaza, where over 25 000 people have been killed, according to Gaza health authorities.
Israel has asked the court to reject the case, with a government spokesperson expecting the UN’s top court to dismiss the allegations. South Africa, however, argues that Israel’s offensive aimed at “the destruction of the population” of Gaza.