U.S. extends ban on flights into Israel's Ben Gurion airport

The Federal Aviation Administration has extended its ban on U.S. airlines' flights to and from Tel Aviv, Israel, for another 24 hours. The ban now runs through 12:15 p.m. ET Thursday, the FAA said.

US Airways will resume flights to Israel's Ben Gurion International Airport on Thursday if the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration approves, the airline told CNN Wednesday.

On Tuesday, the FAA barred U.S. airlines from flying into or out of the airport for 24 hours after a rocket struck about a mile away.

Delta said at the time it was suspending flights until further notice. The airline gave no immediate update Wednesday.

Some European airlines did the same after the European Aviation Safety Agency recommended avoiding Ben Gurion.

German airline Lufthansa said Wednesday that "based on an analysis of presently available information," it will continue to suspend flights Thursday.

British Airways continued flying into Israel even after other airlines canceled on Tuesday.

On Wednesday, despite the cancellations, Ben Gurion was expecting 206 flights, Israel's Transport Ministry said.

Controversial call

The FAA said its decision Tuesday was necessary due to the "potentially hazardous situation."

After the shootdown of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over Ukraine last week, some jittery passengers said they understood the FAA decision.

"You have a rocket and you bring down 300 people at one shot," one said. But it didn't stop her from boarding her El Al flight.

Some people rejected the FAA decision as an overreaction. "The flight restrictions are a mistake that hand Hamas an undeserved victory and should be lifted immediately," former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said late Tuesday, announcing he was flying to Israel on El Al, Israel's national airline.

Israel -- for which the airport is a key economic artery -- said the flight cancellations were not necessary. The military tracked Tuesday's rocket, as it does in general with those fired by militants from Gaza, and chose not to shoot it down because it knew the airport would not be hit, Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev told CNN's Wolf Blitzer on Wednesday.

"Any incoming rocket that would hit the airport ... would immediately be taken out by our system," Regev said.

'Diplomatic consequences'

While more than 2,000 rockets have been fired into Israel from Gaza, 6,000 flights have landed and departed at Ben Gurion, the Civil Aviation Authority of Israel said. "It is not a miracle and not a trick," the authority's director, Giora Romm, told Blitzer. "We know how to defend Ben Gurion, period."

It's very unusual for the FAA to prohibit U.S. carriers from flying to a particular airport, said Mary Schiavo, a former U.S. Department of Transportation inspector general.

"In the past when the FAA has done it there have been diplomatic consequences," she said.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry landed Wednesday at Ben Gurion on a mission to try to stop all hostilities. The airline suspensions didn't affect his flight because he traveled on a military plane.

The flight suspensions have stranded some travelers in Tel Aviv. And others, who flew out on Israeli carriers, had to run for cover before takeoff when sirens went off at the airport.

"You had to run for about a minute to get to shelter and just wait there for about 10 minutes," a passenger arriving in New York from Tel Aviv told CNN affiliate NY1. "It was nerve-racking, actually."

Then the all-clear sounded.

Rabbi Shalom Lewis, whose synagogue is in an Atlanta suburb, was stuck at Ben Gurion with a group of American travelers all looking for a way to get home to the United States. But none was running scared over missiles.

"Every one of them was just aggravated by the inability to get home easily, but nobody was afraid," Lewis told NY1.

Israel: Keep coming

On Wednesday, the Transport Ministry ordered the opening of the small Uvda airport in the far southeast of Israel.

Canceling flights to Israel is a serious blow to Israel's economy, Romm said. Tourism is a major source of income. Last year, the country received a record 3.5 million visitors, according to its Central Bureau of Statistics.

Before the recent violence, the bureau reported a record 1.4 million visitors for the first half of 2014. The violence will likely put a damper on tourism.

CNN's Chelsea Carter, Amir Tal, Umaro Djau, Aaron Cooper, Marlena Baldacci, Justin Lear, Marnie Hunter, Caitlin Schmidt, Katia Hetter, Rene Marsh and Karen Smith contributed to this report.

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