Key Points:

  • Israeli nationals abroad face challenges returning home as many international airlines cancel flights to Israel.

  • Israeli airlines, including El Al, Arkia, and Israir, are under immense strain, even after adding extra flights, with priority given to certain individuals like army reservists and medical staff.

  • While several major airlines have ceased operations to Israel, others like British Airways, Iberia, and Turkish Airlines continue to service the route.

An Israeli airline plane ready for departure, representing the ongoing struggle to accommodate returning citizens.

Surge in Demand Overwhelms El Al, Arkia, and Israir Amid Crisis

TEL AVIV — The current surge of Israelis seeking to return home has proved too substantial for domestic airlines like El Al, Arkia, and Israir. Despite their commendable efforts to add flights, the demand far outweighs the supply, partly due to multiple international carriers suspending their flights to Israel.

Priority Boarding and Communication Efforts

El Al, in a bid to manage this chaotic situation, is prioritizing boarding for Israeli army reservists with emergency call-up orders, medical professionals, and those impacted directly by recent tragic events. The airline also makes notable efforts to communicate added flight details through social media and has bolstered its service centers. They have also slashed fares to the bare minimum and urge passengers to stay patient. Current reports indicate that availability will increase later in the week.

Additional Measures by Domestic Airlines

Israir, in its initiative, has introduced "rescue" flights to various destinations including Larnaca, Athens, Corfu, and Rome. Simultaneously, Arkia reinforces its booking system, especially after their website faced technical glitches.

International Carriers' Mixed Response

A notable list of airlines, from easyJet and Ryanair to Lufthansa and Air Canada, have suspended all operations to Israel. On the other hand, several foreign airlines, including but not limited to British Airways, Turkish Airways, and Emirates, continue their service, providing some hope for stranded Israelis.

Government Intervention and Public Strain

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is attempting to gauge the situation better by urging Israelis overseas to provide details through an online government form. The objective is to understand individual situations better, such as their communication with airlines or any army call-up orders. Nonetheless, the abrupt termination of flights post the Simchat Torah holiday has left many Israelis abroad navigating through a maze of connecting flights, often at exorbitant prices.