By David Shepardson
(Reuters) – The U.S. State Department said the last planned charter flight to help Americans depart Israel will leave Tuesday from Tel Aviv.
The U.S. government on Oct. 13 began chartering flights from Tel Aviv to Athens to help Americans depart Israel amid the ongoing conflict in the region. U.S. airlines have halted all flights to Israel and earlier this month added flights to Athens to help Americans return home. There are still other limited international commercial flights available from Tel Aviv, the State Department noted.
Demand for the flights has fallen sharply, which is prompting the end of the flights. State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said Monday at a press briefing that a U.S. charter flight on Sunday had just five passengers.
“It is purely a demand issue… We have consistently seen the demand for our charter flights go down,” Miller said saying only about 25% of seats offered on U.S. charter flights have been filled by Americans and relatives seeking to leave Israel.
Miller said the State Department despite the end of the flights, it will continue to assess the situation and “whether circumstances change on the ground and if we need to make additional arrangements.”
(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Chris Reese and Chizu Nomiyama)