El Al’s Longest Flight Brings Israelis Home From Australia

YERUSHALAYIM -
El Al Airlines planes are seen on the tarmac at Ben Gurion airport. (Reuters/Ronen Zvulun)

Some 183 Israelis who almost ended up being stranded in Australia and New Zealand due to the coronavirus pandemic arrived back home early on Friday on board a special El Al flight.

The flight took 17 hours and 20 minutes, and was El Al’s longest-ever direct flight, aside from the flight out to Australia on Wednesday.

It took El Al 40 hours to arrange the entire operation, which was described by Yisrael Hayom as the company’s most difficult endeavor ever.

The 19 crew members, eight pilots and 11 stewards and stewardesses, were not allowed to disembark even for a second in Australia, where 5,350 infections have been reported.

In the past few weeks, Israel’s Foreign Ministry has been working with airlines and governments to help Israelis abroad return to the country.

Under the new rules announced by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu earlier this week, all new arrivals from abroad will have to go under a supervised quarantine for two weeks.