ISRAEL: Update on second Qantas repatriation flight and A380 flight from London
Qantas successfully conducted a repatriation flight from Tel Aviv, Israel, to London with 236 people on board on Saturday, 14 October. Unfortunately, the second planned flight for today (15 October) has been cancelled.
However, at a briefing today, Foreign Affairs Minister Penny Wong provided some details on other arrangements for military and commercial flights repatriation flights. Details were not given. are being made, although details are scarce.
“This afternoon, I can confirm that the Australian government is planning multiple flights to depart from Tel Aviv today for Australians wanting to leave.”
“I want to stress these flights remain subject to factors including the security environment, and I’m not in a position to go into details for pollution, operational and security reasons. We are also coordinating options with partners who are held helping their own citizens with departures.”Penny Wong, Australian Foreign Affairs Minister
Government advice is to take the first available option to depart Israel. The government is also assisting with arrangements for onward journeys to Australia, especially via Dubai.
Those who have already registered with DFAT (Department of Foreign Affairs and Trace) will hear directly about their options.
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Qantas and government agencies have been conducting safety assessments for the planned repatriation flights to Tel Aviv. The latest assessments have led to the decision not to operate the second flight to Tel Aviv on Sunday due to a deterioration in conditions on the ground in Israel, which impacted the safety of the flight.
However, the special A380 flight between London and Sydney will still operate on Tuesday (17 October). This flight has been reserved for those being repatriated out of Israel.
Qantas and Emirates are in consultation with various governments about other ports that might be used in the Middle East that could be used to assist with evacuation efforts.
The Australian Government has been in contact with both Virgin Australia and Qantas. The airlines were requested to provide assistance to repatriate an estimated 10,000 Australians and tourists from Israel.
Foreign Minister Penny Wong has been tasked with coordinating planning. Transport Minister Catherine King is liaising with Qantas CEO Vanessa Hudson and her Virgin Australia’s Jane Hrdlicka. Both have been asked to work with the Department of Foreign Affairs on contingency planning for repatriation flights.
‘If you’re an Australian citizen in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories and want to leave, and do not already have plans to depart through commercial options, register with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s crisis registration portal. See the ‘Safety’ section for details on how to register. Keep your registration details up to date so we can contact you. We will communicate directly with registered Australians on the detail of flight departure options.’
There is a special portal to use if you want to register on the Department of Foreign Affairs website. You can access the registration form directly here.
Airlines pulling out of Israel
Many airlines are announcing the cancellation of flights to and from Israel. Foreign Affairs still thinks there are enough commercial flights available for visitors and duel citizens to book. With the whole conflict situation deteriorating, they want to have some contingency plans in place should repatriation flights be required.
With an expected ground action by Israeli military forces into Gaza, the negative safety assessment is not a surprise.
According to the Airport website, Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport is still functioning ‘as planned’. Who knows when or if that will change? The Department of Foreign Affairs, through its Smartraveller.gov.au website, has changed its recommendations about travel to the area. It now reads:
‘We’ve increased the level of our advice and now advise Reconsider your need to travel to Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories overall due to the volatile security situation, including the threat of terrorism, armed conflict and civil unrest. Avoid all non-essential travel.’smartraveler.gov.au
And for those currently in the area, take the advice set out above and register with the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs.
This is a terrible and tragic situation. I hope that hostilities on all sides will cease as soon as possible and that reason and humanity prevail.