Nearly all foreign carriers canceling flights to Israel

El Al, Israir and Arkia are operating rescue flights, but the planes are quickly filling up and many Israelis, including IDF soldiers who were on vacation, are left with no way to return to Israel. The ban on regular service soldiers to fly through Arab countries only exacerbates the problem
Iris Lifshitz-Kliger, Roy Rubinstein |
Almost all foreign airlines are canceling flights to and from Israel. A day after the massive terrorist attack on Israel, the flight schedule in Israel is mostly colored red indicating cancellations, and Israeli companies El Al, Israir and Arkia made changes to their flight schedule in order to fly to Israel as many Israelis who were stuck abroad as possible.
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Flight cancellations are updated minute by minute, and in order to know if a flight is indeed taking place, you must be in contact with the airline and at the same time follow the flight schedule on the website of the National Aviation Administration.
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לוח הטיסות בנתב"ג, היום
לוח הטיסות בנתב"ג, היום
List of canceled flights at Ben Gurion airport on Sunday
(Photo: Roy Rubinstein)
Israeli companies have actually added new flights, which are also called "rescue flights." These flights are usually carried out when an empty plane takes off from Tel Aviv to a destination where many Israelis are stranded. Tickets for these flights are purchased separately regardless of whether the passenger has a ticket with another company or at a different time of the same Israeli airline.
The rescue flights are usually carried out from nearby destinations such as Cyprus, Greece and Turkey. A Ynet check shows that the price range of these flights starts at $340 per person one way (Arkia from Larnaca, Cyprus this morning), but we also came across an Israir flight from Athens with a ticket price of $501.
We will also emphasize that in many cases passengers have difficulty understanding whether they are booking a ticket for a regular flight that was on the schedule or for a rescue flight that was added in the last day. Either way, ticket prices may increase as the aviation chaos increases.
The flights that do take off to Israel, as mentioned, are full, and quite a few Israelis who had to return to Israel found themselves debating whether to purchase the last seats that were available only in the business classes at high prices. For example, the last seats on an El Al flight from Amsterdam to Tel Aviv for Friday cost $1,580 in business class. Those who wait until Sunday morning will be able to purchase a ticket in tourist class at a price starting at $450.
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שלט הכוונה למרחב מוגן בנתב"ג
שלט הכוונה למרחב מוגן בנתב"ג
Travelers believe Ben-Gurion Airport is safer than a hotel or a rented apartment
(Photo: Roy Rubinstein)
Ynet has discovered other stories that illustrate the helplessness of travelers abroad who must return to Israel. More than 20 Israelis staying in the Philippines were supposed to fly to Israel on Tuesday morning with Gulf Air via Bahrain, but their flight was canceled. Now they are desperately looking for flights to Israel, but it is difficult to find planes with available seats.
The problem is exacerbated even more in light of the IDF's ban on soldiers in regular service passing through Arab countries during wartime. Emirates airlines have unofficially become rescuers for Israelis, but not everyone can fly with them. N., an IDF officer who is stuck in Mauritius and is desperately trying to return to Israel to help in the war effort, told Ynet: "The country needs to wake up and initiate an air train that will bring Israelis home."
Bar Kotro is in the Czech Republic along with more than 100 other Israelis. "We need flights for reservists of special units, fighters, medics, etc.," she said. "In addition, unfortunately there are families who have been affected and there are guys who are unable to return home to be reunited with their families. We need help with flights extremely urgently. There are no flights, we have talked to all the airlines and currently there is no response and only a mess."
N. and M. traveled together with N.'s parents in Athens. After the war broke out N. received a call up notice and wanted to move his return to Israel earlier to join the fighting. He managed to get a ticket for $170 on an Israir rescue flight, and M. and his parents stayed in Greece. The Greek airline Aegean Airlines, which canceled the flight, housed the three in a hotel in Athens along with other Israelis. They found three tickets to Israel at the Arkia company at a total cost of 4,000 shekels, but the price is too expensive for them and they continue to look for a solution.
Update on rescue flights:
Arkia announced at noon on Sunday the addition of three more rescue flights for Monday to and from Athens:
Flight 221/2 from Tel Aviv at 9:40 a.m., and from Athens at 1 p.m.
Flight 213/4 from Tel Aviv at 3:25 p.m., and from Athens at 6:35 p.m.
Flight 223/224 from Tel Aviv at 4:30 p.m., and from Athens at 7:40 p.m.
Contact Arkia centers or the internet site. Landline emergency line 03-6903333 or WhatsApp emergency line 053-3550455.
Israir announced the addition of one rescue flight from Larnaca to Tel Aviv Sunday evening at 8:35 p.m. Ticket price is $190 ordered directly on the company's website.
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תור בנתב"ג של אנשים שמבקשים לרכוש כרטיס טיסה ליעד כלשהו
תור בנתב"ג של אנשים שמבקשים לרכוש כרטיס טיסה ליעד כלשהו
Some travelers arrived more than a day before their scheduled flight
(Photo: Roy Rubinstein)
Israir said in a statement that: "Some of the company's pilots were issued call-up orders. Therefore, the company estimates that in the coming days it will be required to operate with a reduced flight schedule from the original schedule."
In addition, the company published a special announcement: "In light of the Iron Swords operation and the war in Gaza, there is an impairment of the company's production capacity.
This may be reflected in some of the company's flights, which were planned to be carried out using planes that are leased for short periods. There is a fear that some of these flights will be cancelled, due to the fact that the foreign crews operating these flights have requested to leave Israel immediately. Furthermore, some of the company's pilots were called up for reserve service. Therefore, the company estimates that in the coming days it will be required to operate with a reduced flight schedule. We are doing as much as we can to find solutions for all our passengers and all Israelis who wish to return to Israel."
El Al did not announce any new rescue flights on Sunday, but issued a statement in which it was stated that the company is making tremendous efforts to return Israelis from abroad home as soon as possible. "El Al personnel are taking care of many Israeli passengers of El Al and passengers on foreign companies whose flights have been canceled," the airline said in a statement. "We have increased flights in a number of hubs in the world and will continue to increase as much as we can." It was also reported that "there are many actions that can be carried out independently on a dedicated page that we have set up for the benefit of the situation. We strongly reject statements about exploiting the situation in one way or another in order to raise prices." The airline also noted that: "There are only a few seats left for flights in the coming days and we believe that later in the week there will be more."
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מטוסי אל על בנתב"ג, ארכיון
מטוסי אל על בנתב"ג, ארכיון
El Al planes at Ben Gurion airport
(Photo: REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun/File Photo)
And while many Israelis abroad are trying to find a ticket that will return them home, many tourists visiting Israel are trying to advance their flight home from Israel . Over the next day, 60,000 passengers are expected to take off and land at the airport. There were more people in Terminal 3 of Ben-Gurion airport on Sunday than the first day of the war, some of them who arrived at the airport showed ong before their flight, even a day early, in order to find an earlier flight and also to feel safer because they were told that the airport is safer than a hotel room or a rented apartment in Tel Aviv.
Amelia Hinonen from Finland came to the airport together with a friend in order to return to her home country. "We have been here for 10 days and I really enjoyed it until the fighting started," she told Ynet. "I knew there was always a risk that things like this would happen and here we are. The original flight is on Tuesday morning, but I'm trying to make it tonight. I'm sure it's safer than in an apartment in Tel Aviv."
"It's not such a big problem for us, but we're sorry for you that you experience this year after year. I can only imagine the difficulty and suffering, our hearts go out to you and we won't stop visiting here," she said.
She said that she was gripped by fear Saturday morning with the first rocket warnings in Tel Aviv. "I didn't understand what was happening and I just ran to the stairwell and met neighbors who explained to me what was happening and what to do, and then in the evening there were more sirens and I heard the explosions and I was very scared. People started sending me messages from Finland. We know that there are many Israelis and Palestinians who are suffering. I looked at the pictures a little but stopped because I didn't want to see any more," she said.
Helen Sauta, 31, from Shanghai, arrived in Israel in September, and was supposed to return to her home country on Monday at 2:00 p.m., but decided to arrive at the airport on Sunday morning. "I came here early because my parents think the city is dangerous and the airport is safer," she said. "I'll sleep here on the benches tonight, I'm afraid to return to Tel Aviv."
Talia Abt from London came to Israel with her family to celebrate Sukkot and her return flight was canceled; at noon she managed to get a flight to Egypt and from there they will try to continue flying to London. "It's very scary," she said. "I feel a little guilty that we're leaving. We're praying for the abductees."
Tourism Minster Haim Katz on Sunday convened the professionals in the ministry and representatives of the coordination office of the tourism industry, which includes, among others, the hotel association, the office of organizers of inbound tourism to Israel, the association of travel agents and more.
Katz received a comprehensive overview of the challenges of the tourism industry and the situation of tourists staying in Israel, and was presented with various needs that have arisen in the past day in light of the situation, including the issue of hosting and flying tourists who want to leave the country, but at this stage cannot. According to the reports, 1,500 tourists want to leave the country and cannot due to the cancellation of flights by foreign. In the discussion led by Katz, the possibility of establishing an air train in cooperation with the Airports Authority is being examined to allow them to return to their countries.
Katz released a letter to the managers of the airlines operating in Israel, both foreign and Israeli, with a request for continued regular operations, fair pricing and flexibility in flight changes. "Israel expects that the airlines will continue to operate flights to and from Israel," wrote Katz. "We will make it clear that the National Airport and the airport in Ramon continue to operate as usual and are prepared to receive flights."
Also, the Transportation Ministry announced Sunday morning that "following the cancellation of flights by foreign airlines to Israel, the Minister of Transportation and Road Safety Brig. Gen. Miri Regev directed the Director General of the Ministry, the Civil Aviation Authoirity and the Airports Authority to implement an emergency plan that will help Israeli passengers whose flights were canceled to arrive in Israel. Due to the security situation and the flight cancellations and the limited ability of the Israeli airlines to respond to the situation. Handling the incident will take time."
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