Foreign Ministry steps in to fly home Israelis stranded in Rome

200 Tel Aviv-bound passengers were stuck after carrier Wind Jet halted operations

A Wind Jet plane on the tarmac. (photo credit: CC-BY  francescomucio, Flickr)
A Wind Jet plane on the tarmac. (photo credit: CC-BY francescomucio, Flickr)

The Foreign Ministry said Sunday it was bringing home 200 Israeli passengers who were stranded in Rome when the airline they had tickets on went belly up.

Italian airline Wind Jet, facing major budget shortfalls, canceled all its scheduled flights at midnight Saturday, after takeover talks with Alitalia fell through.

Among the stranded passengers were 200 Israelis stuck in Rome’s Fiumicino airport. Security for the passengers was reportedly beefed up and embassy officials were dispatched to help the tourists, Arutz Sheva reported.

The Foreign Ministry chartered a special flight Sunday night to bring the Israelis back, though the stranded passengers were forced to pay a 50 euro fee for the flight.

The flight was chartered by Mistral Air, which operates flights for the Italian postal service, AFP reported.

Alitalia and Italian aviation authority ENAC were working to find alternate flights for the other stranded passengers, also for a fee.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman praised the operation, saying it was uniquely Israeli.

“The fact that all of Israel is responsible for one other is something which makes us unique and of which we should be proud,” he said according to Arutz Sheva.

Wind Jet is expected to have its operating license revoked in the coming days, according to media reports, leaving the travel plans of some 300,000 ticket-holders over the next several weeks up in the air.

The airline carried 23,041 passengers through Ben Gurion Airport in 2011, Globes reported.

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