Collette Travel cancels departures to Israel until Dec. 31

COLLETTE TRAVEL SERVICES INC. on Tuesday canceled all departures to Israel until Dec. 31 after the nation declared war following deadly attacks by Hamas. On Monday, American Airlines, United Airlines and Delta Air Lines suspended service as the U.S. State Department issued travel advisories for the region. / ASSOCIATED PRESS FILE PHOTO/PAUL SANCYA

PAWTUCKET – Collette Travel Services Inc. on Tuesday canceled all departures to Israel until Dec. 31 after the nation declared war following deadly attacks by Hamas.

Collette public relations specialist Sam LaFrance said 800 bookings were canceled and all of those affected travelers would receive refunds. Future departures for Jan. 1, 2024, and beyond will be evaluated well in advance of travel.

“We are deeply saddened by the events that transpired in Israel over the weekend, and we hope that the Israeli people will be able to quickly bring safety, security and stability back to the region,” said Jeff Roy, executive vice president at Collette. “We will closely monitor the developments in Israel and make operating decisions for these tours at least 60 days in advance of travel.”

Collette said it was able to ensure that nearly 100 travelers who were on tour in the region over the weekend were able to fly home safely. The company made the early decision to move groups north to Jordan so they could fly out of the Amman airport, rather than waiting for flights out of Tel Aviv.

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The war began after Hamas militants stormed into Israel on Oct. 7, bringing gun battles to its streets for the first time in decades. More than 1,800 lives have already been claimed on both sides, and perhaps hundreds more. Hamas and other militant groups in Gaza are holding more than 150 soldiers and civilians hostage, according to Israel.

The conflict is only expected to escalate. Israel expanded the mobilization of reservists to 360,000 on Tuesday, according to the country’s media. After days of fighting, Israel’s military said Tuesday morning that it had regained effective control over areas Hamas attacked in the south, and along the Gaza border.

On Monday, American Airlines, United Airlines and Delta Air Lines suspended service as the U.S. State Department issued travel advisories for the region.

American Airlines suspended service to Tel Aviv through Oct. 13. The airline said that it has issued a travel alert providing additional flexibility for customers whose travel plans are impacted.

“We continue to monitor the situation with safety and security top of mind and will adjust our operation as needed,” the airline said.

United Airlines said it allowed two scheduled flights out of Tel Aviv late Oct. 7 and early Oct. 8 and accommodated its customers, crews and employee travelers who were at the airport. The airline said that its Tel Aviv flights will remain suspended until conditions improve.

Delta Air Lines said its Tel Aviv flights have been canceled through Oct. 31. The airline said it’s monitoring the situation and making schedule adjustments accordingly. The company said customers with canceled flights or who want to change their Tel Aviv ticket should check the Delta app, website or call Delta reservations to make adjustments.

Airlines in Europe and Asia also put flights on hold amid the hostilities, offering refunds and waiving rebooking fees for passengers.

Air France said that it has suspended services to Tel Aviv “until further notice” after coordinating with French and Israeli authorities.

“The airline is constantly monitoring the geopolitical situation in the areas served and overflown by its aircraft in order to ensure the highest level of flight safety,” Air France said on its website.

Germany’s Lufthansa, which suspended flights to and from Tel Aviv until Oct. 14, said Monday that the decision regarding its planes and those of its subsidiaries was made “due to the still unclear developing security situation in Israel and after an intensive analysis of the situation.”

The Lufthansa Group includes Austrian Airlines, Swiss International Air Lines AG and Brussels Airlines, as well as Lufthansa itself.

Hong Kong’s main carrier, Cathay Pacific Airways, said that “in view of the latest situation in Israel,” it was cancelling its Tel Aviv flights scheduled for Tuesday and Thursday.

“The safety of our passengers and crew are our top priority. We will continue to monitor the situation very closely,” the airline said on its website, adding it would provide another update on Oct. 13 ahead of its third weekly flight on Oct. 15 to the Israeli city.

Virgin Atlantic canceled its service between London’s Heathrow Airport to Tel Aviv on Monday and Tuesday, as well as part of that route on Wednesday.

Budget airline Wizz Air, which flies to Israel from Abu Dhabi and more than two dozen airports in Europe, said it was cancelling all flights to and from Tel Aviv “until further notice.”

The U.K. discount carrier easyJet said that “due to the evolving situation in Israel,” it has decided to “temporarily pause operations,” by canceling its Monday flights from London Luton and Manchester airports to Tel Aviv.

“Our thoughts are with those who have been affected and the safety and security of our passengers and crew is always easyJet’s highest priority,” easyJet said in a statement.

British Airways said it’s planning to continue operating flights to Israel “over the coming days with adjusted departure times.”

Dutch carrier KLM said it’s scrubbing flights to Tel Aviv “until and including Wednesday.”

Material from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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