Israeli airline requests extra security for flights to Antalya

March 12, 2012, Monday/ 17:35:00/ TODAY'S ZAMAN

arkia Israel airlines, which is planning to start flights to Antalya this summer, recently requested the Turkish government provide a flight-specific security area for Israeli flights at the Antalya airport. The request was rejected by Turkey.

In a written statement addressed to the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Arkia requested the right to begin running regular flights between Tel Aviv and the Turkish resort city of Antalya. The Israeli airline also listed as conditions a flight specific security area, the right to oversee security provisions themselves and the right to use devices of their own in order to ensure the safety of their passengers. “Turkey does not possess any specific security areas at international airports. Why does Israel need to have a specific security area at Turkish airports?” Turkish diplomatic sources contacted by Today’s Zaman said. Diplomatic sources added that such special security areas will not be established at Turkish airports and that if the Israeli airline continues to insist, Arkia will not be allowed to offer flights between Tel Aviv and Antalya.

Relations between the two countries have been tense since the Mavi Marmara incident in 2010. In May of that year Israeli commandos raided the Turkish-owned humanitarian aid ship the Mavi Marmara, the lead vessel of a multinational flotilla, in international waters. A Turkish-American peace activist and eight Turks were killed in the raid on the ship, which was carrying humanitarian aid to Gaza. After the incident, Turkey downgraded its diplomatic ties with Israel.

Planning to offer four to six flights a week between June and October, Arkia would like to have extra security measures in place at the Antalya Airport, which receives 10 million tourists a year. The measures would be similar to those applied at Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion International Airport. The Israeli airline asked Turkish officials to grant Israeli security officials 20 free passes in order to assist them in providing enhanced security for flights. Moreover, Arkia requested permission to have three security officials headed by an Israeli security manager on call at the Antalya Airport. In addition, they asked Turkish officials to change security procedures at Antalya’s airport to include the widespread use of various X-ray devices.

Arkia Israel Airlines further requested an additional space to run extra baggage and security checks near check-in points and boarding gates. The Israeli airline also added that it was important for them to have private rooms to question or conduct further security checks of suspicious passengers.

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