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23 July, 2024
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Portugal and Austria airlift citizens from Israel to Cyprus

C-130 aircraft flights facilitate safe return as crisis unfolds in the Middle East

Newsroom / CNA

Approximately 160 individuals were transported from Israel to Cyprus throughout yesterday and today using a C-130 aircraft operated by the Portuguese Air Force. This group included eight Cypriot citizens, according to statements made by Theodoros Gkotsis, the spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He also disclosed that Austria had submitted a similar request for evacuating citizens from Israel via military aircraft, with the inaugural flight set for this evening.

The Portuguese dispatched a C-130 transport aircraft from their military aviation, which conducted three flights. One flight took place yesterday at noon, while two more occurred today: one in the morning and another in the evening. These flights aimed to transport passengers, primarily Portuguese citizens, as well as individuals of various nationalities from Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv to Larnaca Airport, as confirmed by Mr. Gkotsis. He pointed out that the passenger list included individuals from third countries in addition to European citizens.

Mr. Gkotsis further added that Austria had requested to utilize Larnaca Airport for evacuating citizens via military aircraft. He also noted that these flights were carried out following the activation of the Special National Action Plan ESTIA. He emphasized that Ben Gurion Airport remains open for commercial flights from Israel to Cyprus.

In terms of the return of the few remaining Cypriot citizens who wish to return to Cyprus, Mr. Gkotsis pointed out that their number is now very small. It is worth mentioning that on Tuesday, the relevant Ministerial Committee decided to activate the ESTIA Special National Action Plan to facilitate the safe evacuation of EU and third-country citizens from a crisis-stricken region, specifically the broader Middle East area, through Cyprus. ESTIA is the National Action Plan of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Cyprus, designed for use in emergencies or crises to ensure the safe evacuation of EU and third-country citizens through Cyprus. This includes scenarios involving natural disasters in the region that could necessitate the evacuation of EU and third-country citizens via Cyprus.

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