An Israir airliner takes off in Israel. (Moshe Shai/Flash90) (Moshe Shai/Flash90)
Israir

Israel’s second-biggest airline jumps into the new market as Israel and the UAE prepare to sign historic peace accord.

By Yakir Benzion, United With Israel

Israel’s second air carrier, Israir Airlines, has scooped the market and announced it is offering the first direct passenger flights from Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion International Airport to the United Arab Emirates.

Israir will offer eight flights with a one-way ticket costing $299 and four-day vacation packages at a five-star hotel at just $699, the airline said.

“We have witnessed an increase in the demand from the Israeli public to return to flying and vacationing… and there is no doubt that there will be great demand for Abu Dhabi as well,” Israir’s vice-president of marketing and sales Gil Stav said.

President Donald Trump will host Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Emirati Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the brother of Abu Dhabi’s powerful crown prince, at the White House next week for the historic event when the UAE becomes the third Arab country after Egypt and Jordan to establish diplomatic relations with Israel.

Israir will become the first airline to offer direct flights to Abu Dhabi, where travel-hungry Israeli tourists have been itching to visit since normalization between the two countries was announced recently.

Business travelers are expected to be among the passengers as the two countries push for new trade deals and cooperation in different fields.

The airline will launch the flights as soon as it gets final approval from Israeli and Emirati aviation authorities.

The launch of the first flight may come as early as October, and Israir has already booked slots for the flights at Ben Gurion Airport.

Israir’s announcement comes in the wake of the first passenger flight last week when an El Al charter plane carried a delegation of Israeli and American diplomats to Abu Dhabi, gaining historic approval to fly through Saudi Arabian airspace.

Saudi Arabia and Bahrain announced shortly afterwards that they would allow flights to and from Israel to use their airspace, in effect cancelling their boycott against flights to and from Tel Aviv.

That was great news for El Al, which for decades has been forced to fly around the Arabian Peninsula, and it will cut hours off of El Al flight times on its routes to the Far East.

Israir is the biggest tour operator in Israel, offering scheduled and charter flights to various destinations in Europe as well as Israel’s southern resort port of Eilat. Before the pandemic, Israir flew over one million passengers a year on international and domestic flights.

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