Russian drill in Mediterranean expected to disrupt Israel flights this weekend
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Russian drill in Mediterranean expected to disrupt Israel flights this weekend

Airports Authority says flight paths around Cyprus will need to be redirected, likely causing delays during one of the busiest travel periods of the year

Russian Navy Captain Alexander Shvarts stands in front of an artillery system on the Russian missile cruiser Moskva as it patrols in the Mediterranean Sea, off the coast of Syria, on December 17, 2015. (Max Delany/AFP)
Russian Navy Captain Alexander Shvarts stands in front of an artillery system on the Russian missile cruiser Moskva as it patrols in the Mediterranean Sea, off the coast of Syria, on December 17, 2015. (Max Delany/AFP)

The Israel Airports Authority on Tuesday warned of likely disruptions in flights to and from the country through the weekend due to a Russian military exercise in the eastern Mediterranean region.

Flight paths in the area of Cyprus will need to be altered, affecting the international lanes to and from Israel, and likely causing delays in takeoffs and landings, the airport authority said.

The Russian naval exercise is set to end on Saturday, according to Hebrew reports.

Russia has announced major military drills in the Mediterranean Sea amid growing tensions over a rebel-held enclave in Syria. Moscow’s Defense Ministry told Russian news agencies last Thursday that Russia will deploy 25 ships, including a missile cruiser, and 30 jets for the maneuvers in the first week of September. The military said the drills will focus on anti-air and anti-submarine defense.

The disruptions come as Ben Gurion Airport, the country’s main airfield for international flights, braces for one of its busiest periods of the year: Three major Jewish holidays — Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur, and Succot — all fall within the next three weeks.

A view of Ben Gurion International Airport near Lod on May 8, 2018. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

Some 90,000 travelers are expected to pass through the airport on Wednesday on a cumulative 588 flights, according to the airports authority. On Thursday, the number is expected to jump to 107,000 passengers on 650 flights.

The increase is due to the annual pilgrimage to Uman in Ukraine, which will see 30,000 make the journey on 140 flights, Hadashot news reported, citing IAA figures.

Uman contains the grave of Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav, an 18th-century Hasidic leader, whose burial site is the focal point of the celebration at the Jewish new year, Rosh Hashanah.

Last Thursday, NATO confirmed the Russian navy is building up its presence in the Mediterranean Sea.

Separately, on September 11, Russian is set to launch its largest military exercises since the Cold War. The exercises in central and eastern Russia will involve about 300,000 Russian troops. China’s state Xinhua news agency has reported China plans to send 3,200 troops and about 900 weapons units.

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