Airport closure causes frustration

Hundreds of Israelis are struggling to get back to Ben Gurion Tel Aviv, after the government closed the airport to all commercial airlines on 25 January.

Since that time, special flights have been dispatched from Israel to pick up Israeli citizens from Dubai, Frankfurt and New York. But each passenger has to make their own way to one of those three hubs, at their own expense. There are now no more flights to Dubai.

In addition, passengers must have the necessary entry documents which are applied for online, along with a negative Covid test certificate within 72 hours of departure, in order to enter the country. But some Israelis complained their applications were being refused and they couldn’t understand why.

In response, government officials told passengers to re-apply for the permit and keep re-applying, until you receive a confirmation.

Several passengers reported on a WhatsApp group in London and the south east of England, that they applied with the exact same application, up to 4 times, before it was finally approved. But by that time, their Covid PCR test had expired and they had to pay up to another £150 to obtain another.

Meanwhile huge efforts have been underway to charter flights from Ben Gurion to London and pick up Israeli passengers who wish to return to Israel, with the necessary paperwork.

Ben Adler at Travel Desk has worked tirelessly to locate passengers and sell tickets, to recuperate the cost of chartering an aircraft, and earlier this month, an Israir flight returned from London to Tel Aviv.

However another flight, earlier this week was in the end, refused permission to travel from the Ministry of Transportation and government instructed passengers to make their way to Frankfurt.

Travel agent, Ben Adler announced on the WhatsApp group on Tuesday that he could charter a flight from London to Frankfurt for Thursday morning, if there were 30 people willing to pay £595 for the cost of chartering.

But by late Tuesday night, the number of bookings were low, because passengers said they still had not received a permit to enter Israel, or they did not have enough time to get a PCR test, or they simply couldn’t afford more expense.

Some Israelis left Israel for pleasure before the airport shut down, but others departed to visit sick family members and in some cases, bury them, believing they could return without problems. While some found themselves outside the country on business, when the airport shut down last month.

As Israel begins a slow process of re-opening the country including shops, gymnasiums and maybe schools in the coming days, Corona virus commissioner, Professor Nachman Ash, warned that the transmission value is once again, on the rise, although still below one.

Speaking on Kan News, Professor Ash added that the Health Ministry confirmed, the infection rate has increased and is 2 to 3 times higher than official numbers are reporting. However many of those infected are not suffering from any symptoms and some are not reporting the positive tests.

About the Author
James J. Marlow is a broadcast journalist and public relations media consultant. He has previously worked for ITN, EuroNews, Reuters, Daily Mail, Daily Express, LBC Radio and Sky News. In addition he has trained and prepared hundreds of business and entertainment people, politicians and Rabbis, for the media, including television, radio and audiences.
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