Three planes left Israel on Sunday, taking 255 Australians to Dubai.
Foreign Affairs Minister Penny Wong told ABC Radio on Monday that the Australians departed on two RAAF planes and one privately contracted flight.
“That means we’ve had about 1000 Australians who have been facilitated in terms of departing Israel at this time,” she said.
“We are looking to, arrange, subject to security and operational constraints, a further flight today Israeli time. People should consider that may be our last flight for the foreseeable future … if people wish to leave they should take the first available option.”
To register for repatriation flights, call the 24/7 hotlines:
– +61 2 6261 3305 to register yourself
– 1300 555 135 if you’re in Australia, calling on someone’s behalf.
Indeed, the scarcity of international flights out of Israel has seen a hectic scramble for airline seats to Australia, according to leading travel agents.
CEO and joint managing director of FBI Travel of Caulfield North, Mark Chaskiel reflected,”It’s like COVID lockdown again except it is so emotional because it is Israel”.
“It is an incredibly busy time in Israel for travel, especially with religious visitors who have been celebrating Succot.”
“I would estimate up to 2000 Australians tourists are in Israel – it’s a big number from a small community.”
Most international airlines stopped flying to Israel when the terror attacks from Gaza began, leaving El Al and Emirates as the main carriers still operating out of Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv.
“Some other airlines show in the computer booking system that they are flying to and from Israel, but they keep cancelling flights, so we are not booking on them,” said Chaskiel.
“El Al and Emirates are currently flying, but El Al may change its schedules to concentrate on getting overseas Israelis back home.” Chaskiel said his staff has been busy with calls for members of the community seeking urgent flights to Israel.
“Families with children and grandchildren in Israel want to go there to help, especially if one of the kids in Israel has been called up for military duty. They want to help look after the family.”
Anthony Goldman, joint managing director of the Goldman Group, said his team has been busy handling cancellations for travel to Israel as well as helping clients find flights out of Israel.
“We don’t know what is going to happen in the next 48 to 72 hours in Israel and you don’t want to be stuck there,” he said, noting that many airlines have cancelled flights.
Goldman said people are re-evaluating travel to the entire region including Egypt, Jordan and Turkey.
“It’s another blow to Israeli tourism when it was hitting a peak,” he said.
The Australian Government’s Smartraveller website upgraded its travel warning on October 11, urging anyone planning to visit Israel to reconsider their travel plans.