New York: A New York-bound Delta Air Lines flight from Israel declared an emergency and returned to Tel Aviv early today after flaps on the jumbo jet failed to retract properly on takeoff, the airline said.
Flight 469 a Boeing 747 with 370 passengers and 17 crew members aboard landed safely back at Ben Gurion Airport around 2:30 am (local time), about two hours after it left for John F Kennedy International Airport in New York.
Delta spokeswoman Jennifer Martin said the crew made the emergency landing "out of an abundance of caution."
The emergency landing came amid heightened sensitivity in Israel, as the military continues to exchange rocket fire with Palestinian militants. Martin said there was no indication the plane`s problem was related to the conflict or terrorism.
Warning sirens sounded Friday in Tel Aviv as militant rockets targeted the airport, but they were intercepted and there was no disturbance to Israel`s air traffic.
Hamas has said it intends to fire rockets at the airport and warned foreign airlines to stop flying to Israel.
Delta issued a travel advisory earlier this week labelled "Israel Unrest" saying it would continue operating flights on the New York-Tel Aviv route but that it would allow passengers booked while the conflict continues to cancel or change their tickets without penalty.
Radar images showed Flight 469 was in a holding pattern above the Mediterranean Sea, off the Israeli coast, for more than an hour to dump fuel before returning to Tel Aviv.