11 July 2024

Four commercial planes, two each from Nok Air and Air Asia, have been put on standby to fly to Israel to evacuate Thais back to Thailand, once permission is granted by the Israeli government, Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin said today (Thursday), after chairing the meeting of the Rapid Response Centre at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

He said that the government is expecting to receive an answer from Thai Airways International, as to whether it can also put one or more planes on standby for the evacuation operations.

The prime minister explained that special flights from Thailand to Israel will have to pass through the air space of four countries, so it is necessary for the Thai Foreign Ministry to negotiate with those countries to get their permission for the overflights and the negotiations will take two days at least.

He said that the evacuation of Thais from Israel is proceeding very slowly due to several obstacles, noting that the Royal Thai Air Force has, however, been granted permission to fly an Airbus-340 and a C-130 military transport plane to take food and supplies to Thai people there and to fly back with 140 Thai evacuees this Saturday, with the next flight scheduled for the end of next week.

The prime minister said he has told the Thai ambassador in Tel Aviv not to worry that several Thai evacuees do not have their passports, which have gone missing, adding that the safety of the Thais is the first priority.

He also said that the government has been exploring all possible channels to speed up the evacuation process, including evacuation to a neighbouring country as a transit point, before flying back to Thailand.

Since Thailand does not have any conflicts with countries in the Middle East, he said he is hopeful that one of them will allow Thais to be evacuated to there for transit en route to Thailand.