Major airlines cancel flights in and out of Israel after government declares war

Teo K /

Major international airlines have suspended operations to and from Israel following the Israeli government’s official declaration of war against militant group Hamas on October 8, 2023.

At Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion International Airport (TLV), scenes of endless passenger lines can be seen as citizens attempt to flee the country. 

Israeli flag carrier El Al said on October 8, 2023 that it was maintaining its Tel Aviv flights for now, though some flights operated by foreign partners had been canceled, a report by Times of Israel said. 

“We might cancel flights to places where we don’t have a lot of Israelis to help other Israelis in other places,” an El Al spokesperson told AFP.

Here are some airlines that have canceled, rearranged, or are continuing flights to Israel. 

Travelers are advised to check their respective airlines for actual flight status. 

US Airlines

In the US, American Airlines, United Airlines and Delta Air Lines suspended service after the US State Department issued travel advisories for the region citing potential for terrorism and civil unrest.

The US government issued a firm “do not travel” advisory to Gaza, and warned its citizens to “exercise increased caution” when traveling to Israel and West Bank.

“We continue to monitor the situation with safety and security top of mind and will adjust our operation as needed,” American said in a statement sent to US media outlets.

American Airlines’ pilot union Allied Pilots Association, which represents about 15,000 AA pilots issued a “Do Not Fly” directive to its pilot members.

“Until further notice, if you are scheduled, assigned, or reassigned a pairing into Israel, refuse the assignment by calling your Chief Pilot or IOC Duty Pilot. Inform them that you are refusing the assignment in accordance with the guidance and cautions issued by the State Department and the  Federal Aviation Administration (FAA),” union president Ed Sicher said in the directive.

Meanwhile, Delta Air Lines said it is suspending operations to and from Israel until October 31, 2023.

“Our hearts are with those who are impacted as our people work to find safe alternatives for customers trying to depart TLV,” the airline told US media outlets. “Delta will continue to explore options for customers to safely exit TLV via seats that become available on our partner airlines.”

European airlines

As of October 10, 2023 British Airways and Virgin Atlantic are continuing flights to and from Israel and London-Heathrow Airport with adjusted departure times. Virgin Australia also said that customers could rebook or request a refund on their tickets.

A spokesperson for German flag carrier Lufthansa told AFP that it is cutting flights to Israel. The Times of Israel also reported that Air France, Swiss Air, Austrian Airlines and Turkish Airlines have also canceled flights to and from Israel.

European low-cost carriers easyJet, Ryanair and Wizz Air have canceled flights to Tel Aviv, and are currently offering passengers options to rebook for a later date or request a refund. 

UAE carriers

Etihad Airways told media outlet Khaleej Times that it is closely monitoring the situation but has canceled its flights to and from Israel on October 8 and 9, 2023.

“Etihad is monitoring the situation in Israel and continues to maintain close contact with authorities. The safety and comfort of our guests and crew is our number one priority, and we apologize for the disruption to our guests’ travel plans,” the spokesperson said.

FlyDubai canceled its Israel flights on October 7, 2023 but resumed flights the following day. The airline said that it will continue to monitor the situation and amend its flight schedules accordingly.

Dubai-based Emirates are still currently operating flights to and from Israel.

Asian carriers

Air India announced via social media that it is suspending operations to Tel Aviv until October 14, 2023.

The airline also said that it is offering a one-time waiver on charges for rescheduling or cancellation of confirmed tickets on flights to and from Tel Aviv. The offer is valid on tickets issued before October 9, 2023 and for travel until October 31, 2023.

Hainan Airlines, the only Chinese carrier to fly between China and Israel, also canceled flights between Shanghai and Tel Aviv on October 9, 2023, while Cathay Pacific canceled its flight between Hong Kong and Tel Aviv on October 10, 2023.

Korean Air advised its passengers to check their flight status, saying that delays and cancellations on flights to and from Tel Aviv could occur.

According to aviation analytics company Cirrium, a total of 76.2% of airlines have canceled or suspended flights to Israel.

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