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Egyptair announces publicly it is operating flights between Cairo-Tel Aviv, looking to open a route to Sharm el-Sheikh

Egypt's announcement follows Bahrain's new flight path to Israel last week as aviation options expand in the Middle East

An Egyptair plane lands for the first time in Israel for a commercial flight, Ben-Gurion International Airport, October 3, 2021. (Photo: Yossi Zeliger/Flash90)

Egypt’s national airline, Egyptair, publicly launched its Tel Aviv-Cairo route yesterday – a route it had been covertly operating for decades via its subsidiary, Air Sinai. 

Air Sinai had flown passenger flights between Tel Aviv and Cairo using unmarked planes in order to minimize relations between the countries. 

However, the Egyptian airline had a change of heart and officially announced yesterday its own flights to and from Israel, bringing an end to the hushed Air Sinai era.

Egyptair’s decision to make this public is likely due to ripple effects of the Abraham Accords, the normalization agreements signed last year between the United Arab Emirates and other Muslim nations with Israel.  

The airline operates four weekly flights in both directions with connecting flights to various destinations worldwide. While Egyptair is currently the exclusive airline carrier for the Tel Aviv-Cairo route, it is considering launching a Tel Aviv-Sharm el-Sheikh route – a flight path that some Israeli budget airlines also hope to offer.

The Abraham Accords have contributed to warming ties between Israel and Arab nations in Middle East as it relates to tourism and airline travel. Though Saudi Arabia is not part of the Accords, the Kingdom gave permission for the UAE and Israel to use its airspace for travel.

The announcement of Egyptair passenger flights yesterday arrives on the tail of last week’s inaugural flight by Bahrain’s national carrier, Gulf Air. The Bahraini airline began operating two weekly flights in each direction to Israel from its capital, Manama, on Sept. 29. The launch of the new route is a direct outcome of the political, commercial and civil aviation agreements signed last year between the two nations as part of the Abraham Accords.

“We are delighted to announce the launch of our Bahrain-Tel Aviv route as part of the historic Bahraini-Israeli relations,” acting CEO of Gulf Air, Captain Waleed Al Alawi said. “As the national carrier of the Kingdom of Bahrain; we take great pride in supporting our leadership and Kingdom in their role of preserving peace and prosperity in the region. We hope this is merely the beginning of developing further opportunities."

In July, two Israeli airlines – El Al and Israir – began offering their direct commercial flights between Israel and Morocco, just six months after Morocco joined the Abraham Accords in December 2020. 

On Nov. 26, 2020, the Emirati budget airline flydubai launched direct flights to Tel Aviv following the normalization of ties between the UAE and Israel. Then-Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu greeted the historic commercial flight at Ben-Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv, saying that these flights were an opportunity to change the future of the Middle East and Israel. He also predicted with confidence that there would be more normalization agreements between Israel and Arab nations. 

“This means that there is a great opening here for trade, the economy and tourism that, in effect, makes for a truly new and different Middle East, a meeting between peoples as well as meeting between leaders,” Netanyahu said. “We are crumbling the Israeli-Arab conflict and turning it into Israeli-Arab cooperation in order to produce not only a new future but also a new present, and we are doing so with dizzying speed. I think that the entire world is watching and understands that we are making history here, and we can all welcome this.” 

“What we are doing here today is historic: The first commercial flight from Dubai to Israel – and not the last. We are going to open dozens of flights in both directions. This is simply not only changing the future of the Middle East and Israel, it is also changing the present.”

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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