Travel industry responds to crisis in Gaza

Travel industry responds to crisis in Gaza

Travellers who have booked trips to Israel are being urged to check official advice and speak to their travel agent.

“Our thoughts are of course with all those who have been affected by the recent outbreak of violence, and during what will be a turbulent time for the region. The Foreign Office is currently advising that travellers from Britain avoid all but essential travel to Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories,” said Julia Lo Bue-Said, CEO of The Advantage Travel Partnership.”

She continued: “However, as this is an incredibly volatile and unpredictable situation, we would recommend that anyone who is considering travel to the region to closely follow the latest Foreign Office advice.

“For the time being we know that several airlines have cancelled flights to Israel or are warning of travel disruption, as they continue to review the safety and security of their customers and staff. Anyone who has booked upcoming travel to the region should contact their travel agent who can offer the most up to date information.”

Several air carriers have cancelled flights between London and Tel Aviv, including British Airways and Virgin Atlantic’s morning departures. Easyjet and Wizz Air flights between Luton and the Israeli capital have been suspended. 

A Virgin Atlantic spokesperson said: “Currently, we are operating an essential daily service between London and Tel Aviv, and we will do so as long as it remains safe and our customers need and want to travel.

“Due to the dynamic situation in Israel, our flying programme remains under constant review. After careful consideration we have taken the decision to cancel our seasonal second daily service, the VS453 / 454 for the remainder of the Summer season up until October 28 2023. 

“Our teams will be in contact with any affected customers to discuss their options which include rebooking to a later date or a full refund. We would advise anyone booked to travel to check their flight status on the website before travelling to the airport.”

BA has offered a similar statement: “We are continuing to monitor the situation in Israel very closely and have introduced a flexible booking policy, enabling customers to change their travel dates free of charge if they wish.

“Flights are currently planned to operate over the coming days with adjusted departure times.”

Carriers flying from other cities, such as SWISS, have also implemented changes to their schedule. “In view of the current situation in Israel, SWISS has cancelled all its scheduled services to and from Tel Aviv up to and including Saturday October 14,” said Kavin Ampalam, a Spokesperson for the airline.

“We are monitoring developments closely and remain in close contact with the relevant authorities. The decision on whether and when to resume scheduled SWISS services between Switzerland and Israel will be taken on the basis thereof in due course.

“SWISS customers who had been planning to travel between October 7 and 22 will also have the price of their ticket refunded provided it was issued on or before October 7.”

The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office continues to advise against travel to parts of Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories involved in the conflict, and against all but essential travel to all other parts of the country.

British travellers are also being “strongly encouraged” to register their presence with the FCDO, so they receive important updates, including information to support them to leave the country. 

“Fill in the form for every member of your family or group who is a British national,” the FCDO added.

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