VILNIUS – Vilmantas Vitkauskas, head of the National Crisis Center (NCC), said on Tuesday that Avia Solutions Group's charter flight to repatriate Lithuanian citizens from Israel will be operated early on Wednesday, as planned, adding that Lithuania is also sending a Spartan military aircraft the region.
"We have good news that the Avia Solutions Group flight, scheduled for 1 a.m. tonight, will proceed as planned," he told reporters. "We are in contact with the company, which has confirmed that everything is going according to plan."
Vitkauskas also said that Lithuania is dispatching its Spartan military transport plane to the region to be standby in case other evacuation flights are needed.
"We are also sending our Armed Forces' Spartan to the region within an hour. It will be on standby and ready to transport more people (...) from Israel to a safe country in the region, and then we would organize a flight to Lithuania," the official said.
"This would be a link between a safe country and Israel," he added.
According to Vitkauskas, the Spartan is planned to be stationed in Antalya, Turkey, and will be able to transport 38 passengers at a time. The aircraft is expected to remain there for about a week.
According to the authorities, there are currently 473 Lithuanian tourists in Israel.
The charter flight organized by Skyllence, an Avia Solutions Group company, is to fly 168 people to Lithuania, including 81 Lithuanian citizens. Another ten citizens could not be accommodated on this flight.
The 168 passengers include a group of 41 pilgrims who were stranded in Bethlehem and needed state assistance to pass through a checkpoint in the Israeli-occupied West Bank on their way home. Their travel costs will be covered by the state.