The Sad Reason For Gulfstream Charter Flights To Israel

Filed Under: Travel

We’re seeing all kinds of exceptional flights being operated at the moment, in light of circumstances. However, this has to be one of the more somber reasons for a charter flight…

Let me start by saying that I’m kind of piecing together the details of this best I can, based on a tip from a reader, who asked to remain anonymous.

Gulfstream flying from East Farmingdale to Tel Aviv

Talon Air is a private jet charter company, and in the past several weeks they’ve operated at least one weekly flight as follows:

  • From Republic Airport in East Farmingdale, New York, to Tel Aviv, Israel
  • From Tel Aviv, Israel, to Marseille, France
  • From Marseille, France, to East Farmingdale, New York

They’ve been using a Gulfstream for these flights — the plane flies from New York to Tel Aviv, stops for a couple of hours, and then continues to Marseille. Then the plane spends the night there, before returning to New York the following day.

At a minimum, this “trip” has operated on April 5, April 12, and now a flight is in the air as I write this, with the flight number Talon Air 967 (TFF967).

Why is this flight operating?

It would appear that these charter flights are transporting the deceased to Israel. Many Jews consider it an honor to be buried in Israel. Generally remains would be shipped on United Airlines, as they continue to fly from Newark to Tel Aviv.

However, as of March 25, 2020, United Airlines suspended all casketed funeral shipments through their “TrustUA” program. Therefore charter flights are being organized in order to transport those who have passed.

My understanding is that the plane refuels and then continues to Marseille so the crew can spend the night there. Israel isn’t allowing in foreigners at the moment. I believe airline crews are excluded, though perhaps charter crews aren’t included among those.

How much do charter flights cost?

I respect and applaud those who are willing to spend the money to bury their loves ones in a way that they find appropriate. For those wondering, I do imagine this is quite expensive. Based on doing some Googling, a Gulfstream charter usually costs over $8,000 per hour.

The plane is flying roundtrip to Israel, so it’s flying for well over 20 hours. Based on that, I would guess that one of these charters must cost somewhere around $150,000 to $200,000.

Furthermore, Gulfstream aircraft have pretty small cargo holds, so I wonder about the overall capacity between the cargo hol dand the cabin. I’m not sure how many ways that charter cost is being split, but this can’t be cheap, because the capacity can’t be high.

Bottom line

Talon Air is operating charter flights from Republic Airport to Israel at least once a week, with a stop in Marseille on the way back, where the plane spends one night. With United having suspended casketed funeral shipments, this seems to be the only way for many to bury their loved ones the way they want.

  1. I’ve had some dealings with Talon in the past. Have been on one of the G-IVs plus a handful of their other aircraft. Back then at least they were an excellent operation.

    The owner of the firm deserves a lot of credit as he took one of the Parkland victim’s mothers (who lived on Long Island) down to Florida in the aftermath of the event claiming there were no seats from NY to anywhere in Florida. She then tried to smear him in the media claiming she had no idea she had to pay for the plane to fly back to FRG. In response he covered the whole trip and donated a huge chunk to a memorial fund.

  2. Wow, this is extraordinary.

    While El Al has currently suspended their passenger service, I thought they were continuing Cargo flights to NY?

    Perhaps a Private Equity or Corporate Exec hold dual citizenship in both countries. I believe private jets can self quarantine in Israel.

  3. My friends grandmother was one of the four deceased on this flight. He told me it cost 220k for the flight that was split between the 4 families. May they all Rest In Peace.

  4. Are operating costs a lot lower now that fuel prices have plummeted? I believe fuel is a major portion of charter fees.

  5. @Ben
    You have no idea what crazy industry this is. There are a bunch of muddle men, in Yiddish called “Machers”, that get their thick cuts from this, not to mention the locals on each end who disguise themselves as ones doing some holy work. And most of it is cashhhhhh

  6. I know someone who “flew” on the flight. His son told me this is how they got him to his resting place in Israel. They shared the cost with another family in a similar situation. Very sad situation but how amazing to honor a dead parent’s wish.

  7. I know one of the customers from last week. There were supposed to be four caskets onboard but only ended up being two. Was told 200k.

  8. So let me get this straight – whilst we’re being told to stay at home unless it’s absolutely essential and there are many extraordinary tales of raising money for charity, these selfish individuals are spending $200,000 and involving countless people in the process to fly their bodies half way across the world on a private jet so they can be buried in a country of their preference?

    This is an extraordinarily selfish use of resources and putting many lives of everyone involved in the logistics at risk in the process. Just because you can afford something doesn’t mean you should or that it’s ethical. Having money isn’t a get out of jail free card.

    My grandfather passed away 7 weeks ago and even before the lockdown we decided it wouldn’t be appropriate to hold a funeral given the risks to even the smallest congregation.

    This is disgusting.

  9. Stupid people, live in the US, have their bread and butter here but want to go to Israel to burry them.

  10. This really is the epitome of irresponsible behaviour, both in terms of unnecessary flying and COVID control…

  11. Can I respectfully ask that people who are not part of the community involved not to comment on the necessity of this arrangement?

    In any case, yesterday’s flight had 6 aboard and the cost was divided by the families.

  12. I’m sorry you find it sad. But I find it beautiful that these families are committed to letting their love ones rest eternally in the Holy Land. This story brought tears to my eyes.

  13. @Mitch yeah rest in the holy land after making bank in the United States their whole live$$$. The selfishness and thoughtlessness. Should be banned.

  14. People concerned with others spending their own money on their own private burial arrangements for their own relatives in the face of their own personal tragedies, are likely more interested in signalling their own supposed virtue while insincerely pearl-clutching over people who honor their deceased as they wish, while they are neither as respectful nor as resourceful as they are. You buried your own grandfather without a funeral in a pine box in a mass grave? Bully for you!!

    I also suspect some of the opprobrium (cough En. . e) has more to do with the historical irrational resentment of the religion of these people, than any possible rational basis for it.

  15. @George

    Ignorance is not knowledge. I am very sorry to hear about the loss of your grandfather but in Jewish law, out of respect for the dead, deceased individuals need to be buried as soon as possible within a day or two of passing away so delaying burial by over 2 months is not an option. Further, public funerals are not being held during this time either per public health guidelines. Funerals are virtual and only a few people are nearby the grave during burial.

    Your assertion that this is a selfish use of resources is also false. These people worked their whole lives to earn money and can spend it as they wish. Further, no one is forcing the private jet crew to operate these flights.

  16. I am not understanding why people are taking issue with this. My grandfather retired to Australia and when he died we repatriated his remains to the US. This is pretty common. If I was living abroad and died I would want to be laid to rest on US Soil. Plus they are paying the charter company to do this so it’s money into the economy.

  17. An accomplished elderly family friend whose education was at Technion passed in late January.
    James the good news is the “machers” got here from miami to rishon letzion with a service for less than $ 10, 000.
    To endre just what IS a “certain jewish stereotype” ‘? ha?

  18. It’s funny when people have problem with how others spend or waste their money. For what I read, they are supporting American for these expensive flights.

    As far as irresponsible behavior, both in terms of unnecessary flying and COVID control…, I don’t think dead people can make the virus out of control.

    Now, if this was about the Measles outbreak among the living, I’m not going to defend a certain religion for not getting vaccinated.

  19. @Ben – The passing away of any innocent individual is saddening. However, what makes this service saddening, as you put it in the headline?

    I draw no sympathy for the privileged who can afford to have their loved ones buried a continent away, from this story. Rich people are spending money for what they deem a necessity – not always right nor in the best interest of society. In some ways it actually exhibits the sheer injustice in the world. Basically this airline has found a lucrative business in a period of global distress.

    In regards to some comments above regarding religious funeral rites – all religions have laws dictating the disposal of the dead. It doesn’t mean that these “laws” are appropriate or responsible during these times. Furthermore, many are not able to follow these laws due to the logistics of dealing with so many fatalities.

  20. Proper, respectful burial of your dead is a very important aspect for some. Almost the most important thing. The ultimate display of faith under very adverse circumstances, Nope, not all Jews are wasteful rich boors, and many will sacrifice to give their loved one a proper burial. Israel is the spiritual home of Jews. If you have a visceral dislike of Jews, you know what that is called.

  21. docntx – did anyone display a “visceral” dislike for Jews? Furthermore, I think it shameful to have a visceral dislike for people of any religion, not just Jews. At least I certainly don’t afford Judaism any special allowance.

    However, I do think religious practices are wasteful, unnecessary and illogical in the civilized society.

  22. @Al

    Nice straw-man you built there. In case you missed it, my post criticised the risk to all the individuals involved in the logistics of flying bodies half-way around the world on private jets for a preferential burial location.

    I imagine the majority of the 171,249 people who have died so far of coronavirus have managed without a private jet despite their spectrum of religious beliefs. You don’t need to hire a private jet to be buried within a day or two of where you pass away.

    Like I said… Just because you can afford something doesn’t mean you should or that it’s ethical. Having money isn’t a get out of jail free card. A group of people who took a private jet to France were turned around at the border, “people concerned with others spending their own money” wasn’t a reasonable explanation it seems.

    Why should a minority have special rules and privileges to put others at risk after they have died just because they have money?

    As a reminder, we are being told to stay at home unless it’s absolutely essential. This is exceptionally irresponsible and selfish.

  23. @Mak people like you are the reason why a certain religion is labeled as being overly entitled and self-righteous. Thanks for proving my point. Having the ability to afford such sentimental nonsense while at the same time hundreds of New Yorkers must be piled up and buried on an island won’t justify such flights to an alleged “Holy Land”. Money can’t buy you ethics.

  24. @Travis
    “I do think religious practices are wasteful, unnecessary and illogical in the civilized society.”
    Go tell that to the followers of Joel Osteen, the late Billy Graham, or the Kardashians.

    I think a lot of it has to do with mind your own business the dead can’t spread the virus. But I do agree about the group of people who took a private jet to France were turned around at the border. Those people are the wrong example of how to spend money and deserved to be locked up.

    Money can’t buy you ethics but I don’t see how this is ethically wrong as the dead can’t possibly make things worse.
    We live in a Covid world not a zombie movie.

    “Having the ability to afford such sentimental nonsense”
    Unless you are homeless living in poverty without access to clean food or drink, (not to mention electricity) you are not in a position to tell people how to spend their wealth or what is nonsense. Your TV, car, cellphones, and plane rides prove that you are nothing but a hypocrite.

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