Ben Gurion flight cancellation
Cancellations as passengers stand nearby at Ben Gurion International airport, Tel Aviv, during the Gaza warReuters

Easyjet is unsure when the slump in demand for flights to Israel will return to levels seen before the Gaza war.

2014 was meant to be a record year for the number of tourists arriving in Israel but visitor numbers took a massive hit during July and August, the peak season for European arrivals.

Arrivals were down between 25% and 35% during the summer months compared with the same period in 2013, while the number of visitors arriving in Israel in September was 20% lower than last year.

The fighting in and around Gaza lasted for 50 days this summer. More than 2,100 Palestinians were killed in the conflict, the vast majority of whom were civilians. Israel lost 66 soldiers, while seven Israeli civilians were killed.

Describing the summer war as "unprecedented" in Easyjet's history operating in the country, Neil Slaven, the airline's UK Commercial Manager, said he was unsure when demand would recover to levels seen before the fighting.

"We saw demand reduce over the period when the conflict was taking place," he told IBTimes UK. "We have seen a very substantial bounce back but demand hasn't reached the levels we were experiencing before the conflict. Nobody knows how long it will take for demand to return to pre-conflict levels."

The airline was among a number of European-based carriers to cancel flights to Ben Gurion airport in July, after a rocket fired from the Palestinian territory of Gaza landed near the facility.

The suspension of flights lasted for 24 hours, as European regulators advised against travelling to the airport. The US's Federal Aviation Authority imposed a ban on American carriers going to Israel's major airport, as fighting raged in Gaza.

Militants from Hamas launched hundreds of rockets from the coastal territory, a number of which breached Israel's Iron Dome security system and landed in Tel Aviv and surrounding areas.

Despite the ongoing security challenges that come with operating in Israel, Easyjet has opened three new routes to Tel Aviv in 2014 and is set to open a route from Paris in the future.

"We've applied for the traffic rights to operate from Paris," Slaven told IBTimes UK. "We're aware that there's a very big Jewish population in the Paris area and we feel that an Easyjet operation would be very popular with the travelling public."

"Safety and security is always an issue with Israel but it doesn't in any way dampen our enthusiasm for that market," he said.