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FAA extends flight ban to Tel Aviv for U.S. airlines by 24 hours

(Reuters) - The Federal Aviation Administration on Wednesday extended a ban on U.S. airline flights to Israel's Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv by an additional 24 hours.

A statement from the U.S. agency said the flight prohibition first issued on Tuesday remains in effect as it evaluates conditions. The FAA had banned U.S. flights to Tel Aviv in response to a rocket strike that landed near the airport.

The FAA ban applies only to U.S. operators such as Delta Air Lines, American Airlines Group and United Airlines.

In its statement, the FAA said it was working with the Israeli government to review new information and "determine whether potential risks to U.S. civil aviation are mitigated."

Flight curbs by U.S. carriers on Tuesday were quickly joined by non-U.S. airlines. They came after Hamas, the militant group that dominates in the Gaza Strip, and its allies fired more rockets into Israel.

During a conference call earlier Wednesday, Delta said that while it communicates fully with the FAA, it made its decision to halt Tel Aviv flying on Tuesday before hearing from the FAA after the missile landed near the airport.

"We appreciate the advice and consent and the intelligence we get, but we have a duty and an obligation above and beyond that to independently make the right decision for our employees and passengers," Delta Chief Executive Richard Anderson told reporters.

Anderson said Delta would honor any continuation of the FAA ban but added that the airline has its own worldwide security network that helps inform its flying decisions.

"Even if they lift the (Notice to Airmen), we still may not go in depending upon what the facts and circumstances are," Anderson said.