Virgin, British Airways, easyJet and Wizz Air suspend Israel flights over safety fears

British Airways passenger plane.
Credit: PA

Virgin Atlantic and British Airways have suspended flights to and from Israel due to safety concerns, the airlines said on Wednesday.

It comes after other carriers, such easyJet and Wizz Air, halted flights to and from Tel Aviv following Hamas' surprise attack on Israel on Saturday.

Fighting is now into its fifth day after Israel declared "war" against Hamas following the attacks. More than 2,200 people on both sides have died.

The UK Foreign Office has advised against all but essential travel to Israel and Occupied Palestinian Territories due to the conflict.

Virgin Atlantic

Virgin Atlantic is to stop its flights to Tel Aviv for the next 72 hours.

A Virgin Atlantic spokesperson said: “The safety of our customers and our teams is our number one priority, always. After careful consideration, based on latest information, we have taken the decision to pause flying to and from Tel Aviv for the next 72 hours.

 “As the dynamic situation evolves, we’ll keep our flying programme under constant review.

"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.”

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Which flights are cancelled?

  • The VS457 / VS458 is paused for the coming 72 hours at least.

  • The VS453 / VS454 is cancelled until the end of the season, ending October 28, 2023.

Any customers booked on the Tel Aviv services between now and October 28 who do not wish to travel, will be able to rebook for another date with no additional fees until December 31, said the airline.

Alternatively, they can receive a full refund.

British Airways

On Wednesday afternoon, a BA flight from London Heathrow to Tel Aviv was diverted, according to tracking service Flight Radar.

Flight BA165 was due to land in the Israeli city at 3.05pm (BST) but instead it appeared to U-turn over West Bank, travel back across Europe, and is now returning to Heathrow.

A British Airways spokesman told ITV News: “Safety is always our highest priority and following the latest assessment of the situation, we’re suspending our flights to and from Tel Aviv.

“We’re contacting customers booked to travel to or from Tel Aviv to apologise for the inconvenience and offer options including a full refund and rebooking with another airline or with British Airways at a later date.

“We continue to monitor the situation in the region closely.”