A woman who was due to fly on a British Airways flight that turned around after nearly reaching Tel Aviv has told of the “very difficult situation” for people “stuck” in Israel.
The woman, in her 60s – who did not want to be named, landed at Stansted Airport at 7.40pm on a Smartwings flight from the southern Israeli city of Eilat.
Three flights operated by the same airline landed at the airport on Thursday evening, chartered by advocacy organisation Tzedek Association and travel agents Feldan Travel, bringing mainly British and US citizens to London.
The woman told the PA news agency: “We were meant to come with British Airways yesterday. It turned back and we were left in the airport. No solution.
“We had to buy new tickets.”
A UK resident, she was in Tel Aviv on holiday and said she drove five hours to get to Eilat.
“It was a very difficult situation. A lot of people are stuck there. There is no way of getting out,” she told PA.
“We expected England to provide some flights to get people back, but there’s nothing going.”
She said she paid “a lot of money” to secure seats on the Smartwings flight.
Flight BA165 returned to Heathrow after nearly reaching Tel Aviv on Wednesday.
It came as the airline suspended flights to and from Israel due to safety concerns.
Other carriers suspended services to and from Tel Aviv after the Hamas attacks on Saturday, including easyJet and Virgin Atlantic.
Deborah Green, who lives in London, was in Jerusalem on holiday before she took the Smartwings flight to Stansted Airport.
Sirens woke her up this morning, she told PA.
She said: “It was frightening. The first time I heard the noise it was quarter past eight in the morning.”
Representatives of the Tzedek Association and Feldan Travel were present at international arrivals and held signs bearing the two companies’ names, assisting those coming off the flights from Israel.
They had organised buses to Heathrow Airport for transferring American citizens.
The first Government-organised flight to help British nationals leave Israel was expected to leave Tel Aviv on Thursday, according to the Foreign Office, with further flights planned in the coming days subject to the security situation.