In response to the escalating conflict in Israel, governments worldwide are coordinating repatriation flights from Tel Aviv. The moves come as the death toll due to attacks by the Palestinian militant group, Hamas, and counter-strikes by Israeli forces surpassed 2,000.
Israel’s flag carrier, El Al, announced it would schedule 12 additional flights on Wednesday and Thursday to destinations including Athens, Rome, Madrid, and New York. Sun Dor, El Al’s budget subsidiary, is also organizing rescue flights from Istanbul.
Nearly all airlines flying in and out of Tel Aviv have now suspended or limited their services, citing crew and passenger safety concerns as well as the fact that their insurance generally doesn’t cover flights through active warzones. Apparently, Israel’s parliamentary finance committee is even considering state guarantees for war risk insurance for Israeli airlines.
Given the lack of commercial options and a surge in ticket prices for the last few flights, governments worldwide are planning special evacuation flights. Below is a (more or less) comprehensive list of those governments and a few details on their repatriation flights.
- Argentina: Evacuated over 1,200 citizens to Rome via three air force flights per day, from where state-owned airline Aerolineas Argentinas took them to Buenos Aires
- Australia: At least two Qantas Boeing 787s will begin evacuations on Friday, October 13
- Austria: Delayed plans to evacuate its citizens after its only available C-130 Hercules had a technical failure. The government is now paying for its citizens to take commercial flights out of Israel instead.
- Belgium: Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said it would organize flights for Belgian nationals but didn’t provide other details.
- Bolivia: Evacuated 14 Bolivian tourists on a Spanish Airforce flight
- Brazil: Evacuated 212 citizens and is planning for at least five more planes to repatriate citizens
- Canada: Currently planning an airlift, for 1000 Canadians wanting to leave
- Chile: Evacuated 209 citizens to Athens and Madrid on three Boeing 737 flights
- Colombia: Evacuated 110 Colombian nationals on military aircraft on Thursday, October 12
- Czech Republic: Brought back 34 citizens on a government plane carrying the Czech foreign minister on a flight back from Oman
- Denmark: Arranging a C-130 Hercules for evacuation that will happen sometime after Friday, October 13.
- Finland: Says it will provide “an evacuation opportunity within the next few days” but hasn’t provided further details
- France: Working with Air France to organize repatriation flights for “vulnerable people,” including pregnant women, unaccompanied minors, and those in need of medical attention
- Germany: Working with Lufthansa to organize special flights for around 4,500 German citizens who have requested repatriation
- Hungary: Evacuated 215 people on two planes to Budapest
- Iceland: Has 126 nationals, as well as five from the Faroe Islands, four Norwegians, and 12 Germans
- Italy: Repatriated 200 citizens as of Tuesday, October 10, and arranging commercial and military flights for 500 more
- Kazakhstan: Evacuated 124 Kazakh citizens on Wednesday, October 11
- Mexico: Sent two military planes to Tel Aviv to pick up Mexican nationals, evacuating 276 citizens requesting to leave
- Netherlands: A military A330 evacuated 199 Dutch citizens on Thursday, October 12
- Nigeria: Has airlifted around 300 Christian pilgrims back home after they fled from the West Bank to Jordan
- Norway: Evacuated around 140 Norwegian citizens on Wednesday, October 11, but had to cancel plans to pick up more citizens after Norwegian Air Shuttle failed to get insurance coverage
- Poland: Began evacuating citizens on Monday, October 9 using a government Boeing 737 carrying around 130 people, followed by two C-130 Hercules military transport aircraft carrying over 120 people, with more flights planned
- Portugal: Has completed three flights from Tel Aviv to Cyprus with a C-130 military transport plane, evacuating a total of 160 citizens
- Serbia: Evacuating citizens by maintaining Air Serbia’s regular service out of Tel Aviv to Belgrade. The Serbian government is also working with North Macedonia and Montenegro to evacuate its nationals on the airline.
- South Korea: Carried out a flight carrying 192 citizens back to South Korea, and is planning more evacuations planned later in the week
- Spain: Carried out two military aircraft flights with 200 people on board
- Sweden: Announced it would begin evacuation flights for Swedish citizens, but has not set a date
- Switzerland: Repatriated 220 nationals with Swiss International Air Lines and planned two more flights with capacities of 215 seats each
- Thailand: Planning repatriation flights for around 20,000 Thai currently living in Israel, but has not set a date
- Ukraine: Organized for 200 Ukrainian nationals to fly from Israel to Romania on Saturday, 14 October, with further unspecified flights for the remaining 800 who want to leave
- United Kingdom: Planning flights to help British citizens wanting to leave Israel for £300 per person, with the first flight leaving Tel Aviv on Thursday, October 12 and more flights leaving next week
- United States: Arranging charter flights beginning Friday, October 13 for US citizens
This global collaborative effort underscores the urgency and gravity of the situation in Israel. Things are evolving quickly on the ground, so any foreign nationals wishing to leave should contact their respective embassies sooner rather than later.