Fury as Australians trapped in war-torn Israel learn Anthony Albanese’s rescue planes will drop them off in London rather than bring them home to Australia
Australians hoping to catch rescue flights from Israel have criticized the Albanian government after realizing the planes were dropping them off in London, rather than taking them home.
Anthony Albanese announced on Wednesday that his government had organized two Qantas planes to get holidaymakers out of Israel following the brutal Hamas attack on the region which began on Saturday.
For the 10,000 Australians left hiding in air raid shelters in the conflict zone and unable to escape due to the cancellation of commercial flights, Mr Albanese’s announcement could not have come soon enough.
They felt angry and confused about why the Australian government wasn’t doing more to get them out, especially when countries like France, Brazil and Canada sent rescue planes a few days ago to repatriate their citizens.
However, some travelers say the announcement turned out to be bittersweet.
A woman who did not wish to be named told Daily Mail Australia she was grateful the planes were available, but said people were frustrated because they were flying to England and there had been no no communication regarding connecting flights.
She said there were other concerns because the two planes have a combined capacity of about 1,200 people, which could cause another 8,000 to be missed.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese (photo) announced on Wednesday that his government would facilitate the dispatch of rescue planes.
A total of three rescue planes have been arranged to get Australians out of Israel, but they will remain in London
“Does it count as repatriation if they are not returned home, but are taken five hours away from home? she asked.
“All we were told was that there were two flights to London. We called the consulate hotline and they couldn’t tell us anything.
“This creates another stressful and costly experience for already exhausted and traumatized travelers.”
She questioned whether passengers would then have to pay for accommodation and food in London, then fork out thousands of dollars for an immediate flight back to Australia.
“I know a lot of these people are already maxed out with extra payments and having to pay more for hotels, and nothing is covered by travel insurance because they don’t cover war,” the woman said .
The woman also pointed out that the only people eligible for rescue flights are those who have not booked commercial flights.
Pictured: Australians hide in an air raid shelter in Tel Aviv, after the outbreak of war in Israel
She said some people had reservations but flights continued to be canceled, adding: “They might not be eligible for these flights, but then their commercial flights might be canceled and they would still be stranded.”
“How do they choose who gets on the two flights?
At a news conference on Thursday, Foreign Minister Penny Wong said she had signed off on a third flight.
“It’s a question of availability that could be organized more quickly,” she said.
“We will consider whether further assisted departures are necessary.”
The first flight will depart from Tel Aviv on Friday and the second on Saturday.
Australians in Israel who are interested in these flights should register with the government’s 24-hour consular emergency center.