Qantas will fly an A380 from London to Sydney on Tuesday to help repatriate Australians stranded in Israel.
The airline will initially use a smaller 787-9 to take Australians from Tel Aviv to the British capital, with two services confirmed for today and Sunday.
On Friday, Foreign Minister Penny Wong also confirmed that the federal government will charter at least two more flights from Ben Gurion Airport to Dubai on top of those conducted by the Flying Kangaroo.
It is estimated that around 12,000 Australian citizens are currently in Israel, though many are believed to be dual citizens and may not want to flee the country.
“The situation is highly challenging and rapidly changing,” said The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
“The Australian Government is working to ensure Australians who want to leave can do so as soon as possible, including whether further assisted-departure flights are required.
“In addition, Qantas has agreed to support Australians arriving in London on assisted-departure flights from Tel Aviv by offering an A380 flight from London to Sydney via Singapore free of charge.
“The Australian Government will continue to work on options for onward travel from Dubai and to support those who cannot reach Tel Aviv.
“Australians in Israel or the Occupied Palestinian Territories who want to leave and don’t already have plans to depart should register via DFAT’s Crisis Portal or by calling the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305 (from overseas) or 1300 555 135 (from within Australia).”
Qantas said more than 900 crew volunteered to operate its flights, exceeding the 70 required.
The first aircraft departing Tel Aviv is likely to be the Flying Kangaroo’s latest 787, VH-ZNN.
Australian Aviation reported in July how Qantas took delivery of its final Dreamliner, named ‘Snowy River’. The delivery was the last of a batch of three that had been delayed by two years.
Like previous Qantas 787-9s, the final three aircraft will feature 42 business class lie-flat bed seats, 28 premium economy seats, and 166 economy seats.
The planes are necessary for Qantas to increase capacity and launch new routes. In particular, the airline is currently in talks with Air France to develop a direct route from Perth to France, as well as several other additional European locations.
Neither Qantas nor Virgin offer direct flights to Israel under normal circumstances, though Qantas codeshare partners, including Emirates and El Al, and Virgin partners, including Etihad, fly to Tel Aviv.