Six Israeli backpackers boarded a Czech government-run flight from Lima to Prague, on their way amid the global coronavirus pandemic, the Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Saturday.
The Israeli tourists joined citizens of the Czech Republic on the flight, which left Peru on Saturday afternoon. They are set to travel through Sofia and Berlin before arriving in Tel Aviv, the ministry said.
Four El Al flights have already brought back some 1,100 Israelis from the South American nation, but some backpackers were left behind as there was no space on the planes last week.
Peru had initially blocked the El Al flights over concerns about having such a large group congregate in Lima and fears that the Israelis could look for lodgings in the city, potentially increasing the spread of the virus, according to Channel 12 news.
The planes were finally okayed to fly from Cusco to Lima after Foreign Minister Israel Katz spoke with his Peruvian counterpart Gustavo Meza-Cuadra, who gave the go-ahead after consulting with Peru’s transportation minister.
A group of Israeli tourists took off Thursday from Lima en route to Frankfurt on a plane the German Foreign Ministry sent to Peru to pick up German tourists stuck there.
Earlier this week, the Foreign Ministry estimated that between 1,000 to 1,500 Israelis who want to return have not yet been able to do so. The ministry said that continued efforts were being made to get everyone home, citing the principle of “mutual responsibility.”
Earlier in the week, Katz had instructed his team to develop a “national emergency plan” to repatriate Israelis stuck abroad.
In addition to these places, the Foreign Ministry in cooperation with El Al and two other Israeli airlines — Arkia and Israir — has organized nearly a dozen flights for Israelis stranded in Croatia, Italy, Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Romania, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Singapore, Canada, the United Kingdom, Ukraine, Slovenia, Georgia, Moldova, and Australia.
Israeli travelers in Asia who have been stranded due to closing airspaces amid the coronavirus pandemic are said set to make their way home in the coming days.
An unspecified number of tourists in Cambodia, Myanmar, the Philippines, and Thailand will converge in Bangkok for a flight to Israel organized by FlyEast, a local company that specializes in travel to Asia. The travelers will reach the Thai capital aboard a number of internal flights coordinated by Israeli diplomats in Hong Kong, according to a Ynet report Saturday. The flight will also pick up some 50 Israelis stranded in Goa, India.
Israeli officials continue to urge all Israelis who are abroad and want to come home to do so quickly while it is still possible.