The first Canadian Armed Forces evacuation flight airlifting Canadian citizens and their families out of Israel has departed with approximately 130 passengers on board, Defence Minister Bill Blair announced Thursday morning.
“We’re working tirelessly to assist Canadians in Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza,” Blair said in a post on “X,” formerly known as Twitter. “We will continue to be there for Canadians who need help.”
Departing from the Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv, the two military CC-150 Airbus Polaris seconded for this endeavour will be transporting those aboard to Athens. From Greece—a safe third country—an Air Canada plane and crew will be bringing the passengers back to Canada.
These flights have been opened to Canadian citizens, their spouses and their children; as well as Canadian permanent residents, their spouses and their children; and dual-nationals.
On Wednesday, federal officials said they anticipated the first assisted departures would begin on Thursday or Friday and the tentative plan was for approximately flights per day, with a maximum of 150 personnel per flight.
Canada is prioritizing documented and travel-ready passengers, stranded tourists, and the most vulnerable. Plans were being made to facilitate transport to the airport for some, as well as provide medical services on-board, as needed.
And, while Canadians will not be charged for the assisted departure flights from Israel to Athens, onward travel and accommodation will be at individuals’ expense, according to the government.
More to come…