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Airlines cancel flights, tours scramble

People wait in departing section at Ben Gurion Airport, Israel’s only international airport, after many flights from abroad are cancelled resulting from the attacks launched by Palestinian factions in Tel Aviv, Israel on October 8, 2023.

Turgut Alp Boyraz | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Several airlines have suspended service to Israel after surprise attacks by Hamas and Israeli retaliation left lots of dead and 1000’s injured.

State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said Monday that nine U.S. residents were killed. Some U.S. residents are still unaccounted for “and we’re working with our Israeli partners to find out their whereabouts,” he said.

A National Security Council spokesperson said that the U.S. is just not “actively” considering an evacuation of U.S. residents.

Meanwhile the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration on Saturday sent a notice to pilots stating “operators are advised to exercise extreme caution when operating” within the Tel Aviv area due to attacks.

United Airlines, Delta Air Lines and American Airlines each scrubbed service to Tel Aviv. United Flight 954, which departed San Francisco Friday night for Israel, turned back near Greenland, in response to flight-tracker FlightAware.

“Our Tel Aviv flights will remain suspended until conditions allow them to resume,” United said on Sunday.

American and Delta flights scheduled for early this week were also canceled.

Germany-based Lufthansa Group said all of its flights, including those on Swiss International Air Lines and Austrian Airlines, were suspended into Tel Aviv through Monday.

“We are constantly monitoring the safety situation in Israel and are in close contact with the authorities,” Lufthansa said in a press release. “The safety of our guests and crew members has top priority for Lufthansa.”

British Airways also canceled flights this weekend and reduced service early within the week. Air France said its Tel Aviv service was canceled “until further notice,” while European budget airlines Wizz and easyJet canceled flights to Tel Aviv through at the very least Monday.

Israeli airline El Al said Sunday that its flights were “operated as scheduled” and said it was expanding its schedule to assist offset the cancellations. Emirates Airline also continued to operate flights between Tel Aviv to Dubai, and Turkish Airlines flew between Tel Aviv and Istanbul.

El Al and other carriers also offered travel waivers for purchasers to delay or cancel their trips.

Cruise operator Royal Caribbean said it adjusted several itineraries to bypass the world due to attacks. “Impacted guests are being notified directly,” the corporate said in a press release.

Some tour operators were working to get travelers in another country.

Intrepid Travel said it “had a small number” of travelers within the country when the attacks began on Saturday and that each one guides and customers are accounted for.

Zina Bencheikh, managing director of Intrepid Travel’s Middle East and Africa business, said that the corporate’s customers who were in the midst of a tour in Israel throughout the attacks had mostly left the country, aside from one who was set to go away on Monday.

The company canceled its tours in Israel through the top of the month.

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