australian aviation logo

RAAF may repatriate Australians in Israel, hints Marles

written by Adam Thorn | October 15, 2023

A RAAF C-17A Globemaster III touches down at Hobart International Airport. (CPL Lisa Sherman, Defence)

Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles has said the federal government is investigating whether it can send military aircraft to evacuate Australians in Israel.

It follows two planned charter flights out of Tel Aviv being cancelled over the weekend, including a second Qantas 787 service scheduled for Sunday.

One earlier flight on Friday was able to transfer stranded citizens to London, with an A380 flight taking passengers to Sydney still scheduled to go ahead.

Marles said there were around 10,000 Australians in Israel, with numbers in the “high hundreds” registering their interest in a repatriation flight home.

“We are working very intently on that [evacuation],” he said. “It’s hard to commit to this because this can literally change at any moment. This is determined on the basis of status with Israel’s airspace remaining open.”


However, Marles hinted military evacuation flights are under consideration, given they have “greater flexibility” than chartered commercial services.

The Qantas 787-9 that conducted Friday’s flight, VH-ZNN, has now returned home, and more than 800 Australians have made it out of Israel since the onset of the war a week ago.

Qantas initially said more than 900 crew volunteered to operate its two planned flights, exceeding the 70 required.

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.

It meant the Flying Kangaroo now has a fleet of 14 of the aircraft type, following the recent arrivals of VH-ZNM, named ‘Mateship’ and VH-ZNL, ‘Billabong’.

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 offers 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.

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).

You need to be a member to post comments. Become a member today!

You don't have credit card details available. You will be redirected to update payment method page. Click OK to continue.