JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel’s national airline, El Al, said it would send rescue flights to bring home hundreds of Israelis stranded in several countries that have closed their doors and canceled international flights amid the coronavirus pandemic.
In response to a request from Israel’s government, El Al will send planes to countries including Australia, Brazil and Costa Rica, Ynet reported. The airline has already sent a plane to Peru and could add airlifts in Thailand and India, according to the report.
Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz announced on Saturday an effort to create a “national emergency plan” to bring home Israelis stranded abroad due to the coronavirus crisis, the Times of Israel reported.
Hundreds of Israelis remained in India as it announced the closure of its airspace until an El Al plane arrived Sunday to return them home.
Over the weekend some 1,100 Israelis arrived on special El Al flights from Peru, though about 20 Israeli travelers remained behind because there were not enough seats.
Two Israir planes also will be sent to Italy to bring home Israelis, including Israel’s diplomatic staff in the country.
Ambassadors in countries around the world have asked Israelis to book flights home before countries shut down their airports, according to a statement from the ministry.
Many international travelers have had trouble getting home as countries close their borders and as diminished air travel results in canceled flights. The issue is especially pronounced for Israelis, who have no way of getting home except by air.