When Renée Tirpak learned that a rescue flight to take home stranded Israelis would be departing from Frankfurt on Sunday, January 31, she rushed to Israir’s website to secure a ticket.
As she made her way to Frankfurt from Cleveland, Ohio, she was informed that the flight would be postponed to Monday, February 1. The 23-year-old is among the many individuals currently awaiting to return to Israel from the German city. However, the government has yet to authorize the flight, an Israir spokesperson told The Jerusalem Post. The airline was expecting the authorization to be issued during a meeting on Sunday night, but to no avail. The flight was therefore canceled and postponed again to an indefinite date.
Tirpak made aliya from the US in 2016. She recently went back to her native country for a college course, expecting to fly back to Israel at the end of it. The government’s decision to shut down Ben-Gurion airport to prevent COVID-19 mutations to enter the country caught her by surprise and she started to look for a solution to come home.
“Since these ‘rescue flights’ were only from Germany, I needed to change my ticket with KLM from Cleveland-Tel Aviv to Cleveland-Frankfurt. My flight was supposed to depart later today, but got postponed to Monday,” she explained. “I have been hearing so many different things about these flights and I don't even have faith that I'll be able to get to Israel next week and that I'll be stranded here in Germany.”
According to Maariv, The Jerusalem Post's sister publication, there are currently dozens of Israelis with the required medical approvals waiting in the city. Frankfurt was chosen as the primary destination for sending rescue flights due to its large international airport, that still receives international flights from most countries.
At the moment, while the Israir website still carries a banner about rescue flights to and from Israel, it does not offer any specifics and it does not offer the possibility to book a seat.
Israir’s spokesperson said that they are not going to reschedule the flight until the government authorizes it.
During the meeting the ministers are also set to extend the airport’s closure which is currently due to expire on Sunday night at midnight.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that he will support an extension for at least two weeks.
According to Hebrew website Ynet, a flight with 30 passengers who requested to leave Israel and return to Germany departed on Friday, and 31 Israelis arrived on the returning flight.
Tobias Segal contributed to this report.