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Friday,  April 19, 2024 5:32 PM 

Air Canada temporarily cancels Tel Aviv flights after attack on Israel; Ottawa updates travel advisory

Air Canada temporarily cancels Tel Aviv flights after attack on Israel; Ottawa updates travel advisory
(Air Canada)
Michael Pihach

Michael Pihach is an award-winning journalist with a keen interest in digital storytelling. In addition to PAX, Michael has also written for CBC Life, Ryerson University Magazine, IN Magazine, and Michael joins PAX after years of working at popular Canadian television shows, such as Steven and Chris, The Goods and The Marilyn Denis Show.

The story was updated on Monday, Oct. 9 at 1:17 p.m. EST

Recent rocket attacks by the militant group Hamas on southern and central Israel have left hundreds of Israelis dead, and even more wounded, prompting alerts and flight changes for travellers who were scheduled to visit the Middle Eastern country.

In a statement Sunday (Oct. 8), Air Canada announced that it was temporarily cancelling flights to Tel Aviv, calling the situation “evolving.”

“We are monitoring this dynamic situation closely and we will adjust these plans as required,” the airline wrote on its website. “We remain in contact with the Canadian government. Air Canada will resume operations to Tel Aviv as soon as the situation stabilizes.”

Air Canada operates daily flights from Toronto to Tel Aviv. It also flies to Tel Aviv from Montreal three times a week.

Air Canada’s cancelled flights include:

Toronto - Tel Aviv

  • AC080 - October 8
  • AC080 - October 9

Tel Aviv - Toronto

  • AC081 - October 9
  • AC081 - Oct. 10

Montreal - Tel Aviv

  • AC082 - October 8
  • AC083 - October 9

Tel Aviv - Montreal

  • AC081 - October 9
  • AC083 - October Oct. 10

Flexible booking

For guests who currently have a reservation, Air Canada has implemented a policy that makes it possible to make voluntary changes to their itinerary if:

  • The ticket was purchased no later than Oct. 6, 2023 for travel between Oct. 7, 2023 and Oct. 14, 2023.
  • The itinerary includes a flight to, from or via Tel Aviv (TLV).

If the guest is scheduled to travel during the affected period, they can retrieve their booking to change their flight up to two hours before departure, free of charge, to another date between now and October 21, 2023, subject to availability in the cabin they originally purchased. (Otherwise, any fare difference will apply). 


Guests who choose to cancel their flight will receive a full refund, Air Canada says.

If a ticket was purchased with Air Canada Vacations, guests are being advised to reach out to them directly.

Israel declares war

The crisis in Israel began early Saturday morning (Oct. 7) after Hamas militants, which are listed as terrorist entities by Public Safety Canada, fired rockets and infiltrated towns along the Gaza Strip.

According to reports, soldiers and civilians were captured and taken to Gaza as hostages, including children and the elderly.

On Sunday, the Israeli government declared war against Hamas, saying they have approved “significant military steps” in retaliation for the surprise attack, which was carried out via air, land and sea.

In response, Israel hit Gaza with airstrikes, leaving hundreds dead and thousands more injured.

Reports say the toll has now passed 1,100 dead and thousands wounded on both sides.

Early Monday morning (Oct. 9), Israel’s defence minister, Yoav Gallant, said that Israel is imposing a “full siege” on Gaza.

“There is no electricity, there is no food, there is no water, there is no food no gas, everything is closed” Gallant reportedly told an Israeli newspaper. "I ordered a complete siege on Gaza. We are fighting human animals, and we act accordingly." 

Global Affairs Canada reports that 1,419 Canadians registered with the Registration of Canadians Abroad in Israel and 492 Canadians registered in the Palestinian Territories.

However, it should be noted that this doesn’t paint a complete picture as registration with this service is voluntary.

“Avoid non-essential travel”

The Government of Canada on Sunday updated its travel page, changing the risk level for Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza Strip to “avoid non-essential travel” due to the unpredictable security situation and suspension of major international airline service to Israel.

Ottawa is also advising Canadians to avoid all travel to within five kilometres of the border with Egypt “due to the volatile security situation,” as well as the area within 500 metres of the border with Lebanon “due to military activity.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau addresses the situation on X. (X/@JustinTrudeau)

Travellers who are in and around an affected area in Israel, the West Bank, or the Gaza Strip are being advised by Ottawa to limit their movements, remain cautious, monitor local media for updates, shelter in a place until it is safe to leave the area, follow the instructions of local authorities and download an alerts application to receive detailed information and instructions (Ie: Home Front Command).

The Canadian government has shared the following numbers for those who need immediate help and 24/7 consular services:

Call +1 613 996 8885 or contact by:

  • SMS: 1 613 686 3658
  • WhatsApp: at +1-613-909-8881
  • Telegram: Canada Emergency Abroad
  • Signal: +1-613-909-8087

Canadians can also register with Global Affairs Canada here

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday, where he "unequivocally condemned" Hamas' attacks.

“Canada unequivocally condemns Hamas’ barbaric, brutal terror attacks – and reaffirms its support for Israel’s right to defend itself. We also call for the immediate release of those being held hostage, and we demand that they be treated in accordance with international law,” Trudeau wrote on the X platform, formally known as Twitter, yesterday.

Caught in the crossfire

Meanwhile, Canadian travellers in Israel who are caught in the crossfire are scrambling to find a way home as airlines cancel flights out of the country.

The Canadian Press spoke to some travellers who are stuck in Israel, and facing logistical challenges, as communication with the Canadian Embassy in Tel Aviv is apparently limited due to the embassy keeping Thanksgiving long weekend hours.

One Canadian couple, The Fullertons, told CP that they saw fighter jets, smoke from distant Arab cities, heard air raid sirens, and had to spend time in their hotel's bomb shelter.

They’re now trying to book a flight home after their initial flight was cancelled.

“What I would appreciate is having a flight that we can guarantee and bank on and put money on and get out on," Kendall Fullerton was quoted as saying.

The couple noted that they were considering driving to nearby Jordan, and flying out from there, but were unsure if it would be safe to do.

Intrepid & Globus cancel trips 

PAX has reached out to Israel’s Ministry of Tourism, as well as major tour operators, for comment.

So far, Intrepid Travel has replied, saying that it has extended the cancellations of tour departures in Israel and the Palestinian Territories up until and including Oct. 31, 2023, and is communicating this decision to all affected customers. 

The company says it already cancelled trips in Israel and the Palestinian Territories up to and including Oct. 16, 2023, and that it has extended this for the remainder of the month. 

Intrepid says it had a "small number" of travellers in Israel when the violence broke out on Saturday. 

"All travellers and tour leaders were safely accounted for. The majority of travellers left Israel over the weekend, with the remainder set to depart today," the tour operator told PAX in a statement. 

Zina Bencheikh, managing director EMEA for Intrepid, added: “Our thoughts are with the people of Israel and the Palestinian Territories at this awful time, and we send our condolences to all those who have lost loved ones." 

While trips in Israel and the Palestinian Territories are paused, Intrepid says its tour departures in neighbouring Egypt and Jordan will continue as scheduled as both countries remain open for tourism.

The latest information can be found on Intrepid’s Travel Alerts page. 

Future Globus and Cosmos tours in Israel have also been cancelled through Nov. 15, the Globus Family of Brands confirmed with PAX. 

"We are communicating these cancellations directly with affected guests and advisors, providing them a plethora of options, this week," said Steve Born, chief marketing officer for the Globus family of brands, in a statement. 

"Our hearts go out to the people of Israel. Upon receiving the news of the attack on Gaza, for the safety and security of all Globus and Cosmos guests in Israel, we put together an exit strategy and provided assistance in arranging flights home," Born said. 

"...In the coming days, we will continue to monitor the situation to determine future needs and/or cancellations." 

What Israel's Minister of Tourism is saying 

Haim Katz, Israel's Minister of Tourism, sent a letter to travel partners early Monday morning to address the situation. 

"The State of Israel is engaged in a conflict that we are confident we will ultimately overcome," wrote Katz in the Oct. 8 letter, which PAX has viewed. "Unfortunately, we have to acknowledge that there is no knowing how long the security situation will remain uncertain. The brutal attacks have caught incoming tourism just as it was reaching its peak and I might add to which we were eagerly anticipating." 

Minister Katz said the Israeli government has declared a state of emergency in the border area and within an 80-kilometre radius.

"No vehicles of any kind are allowed in this area and as this is just the beginning, we anticipate that the guidelines will be changing from time to time in this region as well as throughout the country," he wrote. "Most airlines have cancelled flights to Israel and the Ministry in collaboration with relevant authorities is working to assist those who wish to depart from Israel." 

The Minister goes on to say that the safety of tourists "is our top priority and we work to ensure their safety in every way."

"We hope that we can get back to 'business as usual' as soon as possible," Katz wrote. "Drawing from past experiences, we have learned that once normalcy is restored, the tourism industry and the demand for visiting our country will rebound with passion and excitement." 

This is a developing story.

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