Thirteen-hour ‘flight to nowhere’ for US jet bound to Tel Aviv

Hundreds of United Airlines passengers booked from San Francisco to Tel Aviv are enduring a 13-hour “flight to nowhere” due to the attacks by Hamas on southern Israel.

Flight UA954 departed from the Californian city at 8.25pm local time for the 7,422-mile journey to Israel’s main airport, Ben Gurion International.

But about halfway along its journey, above eastern Greenland, the Boeing 777 made a 180-degree turn and is heading back to San Francisco. It is expected to touch down at around 9.30am local time.

A succession of Ryanair flights from Continental Europe to Tel Aviv turned around in mid-air.

The flight from Budapest was over Antalya in southern Turkey when the decision was taken to return to base.

Flights from Berlin, Milan, Charleroi and Baden-Baden also turned back – the last reaching only as far as northern Switzerland before returning.

British Airways flight 167 is preparing to depart as normal from London Heathrow to Ben Gurion international airport in Tel Aviv, though there are contingency plans in place to divert en route if necessary.

But Wizz Air flights from London Gatwick and Luton to Tel Aviv on Saturday afternoon have been cancelled – along with the same airline’s flights from Iasi, Vienna and Vilnius to Tel Aviv.

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