People struggle to leave Israel after more flights cut

7 months ago 126

A Virgin Atlantic planeImage source, Getty Images

By Michael Race & Katy Austin

Business reporter and Transport correspodent, BBC News

Securing direct flights from Israel to the UK has become increasingly difficult with more airlines cancelling flights after the Hamas attacks.

Virgin Atlantic is now operating one flight to and from Tel Aviv a day instead of two, while British Airways continues to operate one round trip.

EasyJet, Ryanair, Wizz Air as well as Air France, Lufthansa and Emirates have suspended all flights to the UK.

Some flights are running - but with many fully booked, tickets are scarce.

For example, the earliest BA flight to the UK is on Sunday 15 October, with a one-way ticket costing more than £1,300.

Virgin Atlantic and Israel's national carrier El Al - which is still operating two flights daily to London Heathrow and two to Luton Airport - have no availability on their UK-bound services until next week.

Flightradar24, a website which tracks flights, told the BBC many airlines had cancelled journeys due to safety concerns, but added the airspace over Israel isn't closed, so the number of flights flying to or from Tel Aviv "is currently down to individual operators".

The dwindling number of direct flights leaving the country comes as James Cleverly, the Foreign Secretary, urged UK nationals wishing to leave Israel to use commercial transport, with no UK government evacuation currently planned.

The Foreign Office is advising against all but essential travel to Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, and against all travel to certain parts of the region.

"There are air flights, and of course there are land borders with friendly nations - with Egypt, with Jordan," Mr Cleverly said. "If you seek to leave Israel we are working with the air industry and with Israeli air traffic control to maintain those flights."

Several airlines have introduced flexible booking policies and allowed customers to change travel dates for free.

Asked if the government's policy on not currently facilitating an evacuation from Israel for UK citizens could change, Mr Cleverly said the situation in Israel was "very fast moving".

"I'm not able to speculate as to what might happen in the future."

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