Israel and Egypt agreed on Wednesday to expand direct flights between the two countries. The new flight route, set to be inaugurated next month during the Passover holiday, will operate between Ben-Gurion International Airport and Sharm el-Sheikh.
The matter was discussed at the meeting between Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, in Sharm el-Sheikh last September, but is only coming to fruition now.
Sharm el-Sheikh is a city located on the southern tip of the Sinai Peninsula and is considered a desired tourist destination that appeals to young Israelis. Arab News reports that Russian and Ukrainian tourists represented about 70% of tourists hosted by the city of Sharm El-Sheikh over the past five months. With the war raging between Russia and Ukraine, Egypt has been seeking alternative sources of tourist flow and have identified the potential from Israel, according to a report on Globes.
Israeli airlines Israir and Arkia have already placed their bids to operate the new flight route. Each airline is interested in offering dozens of weekly flights, including tour packages and hotel bookings.
In recent days, Israel and Egypt formulated security arrangements for the new line. A delegation to Egypt led by the Israeli Security Agency (Shin Bet) finalized the agreement following a long process, together with the Egyptian government.
Bennett said that "this agreement will further warm the relations between Israel and Egypt.”
“The cooperation between our two countries is expanding in many fields, and this is contributing to both peoples and to regional stability. Israel is opening up to the countries of the region and the basis for this long-standing recognition is the peace between Israel and Egypt," he said in a statement. "Therefore, on both sides we need to invest in strengthening this connection – and that’s what we are doing. I thank the Israeli Security Agency for taking the lead on formulating the security outline that will enable this route to open."
Israel’s Abraham Accords partner, the United Arab Emirates, announced on Wednesday that its largest airline will launch daily direct flights to Israel this summer.
Emirates Airline will begin offering flights to Tel Aviv on June 23. It will operate its three-class Boeing 777-300ER on the route, featuring eight private suites in First Class, 42 lie-flat seats in business class and 304 spacious seats in Economy Class.
The new flight schedule was originally planned to begin in December but was delayed in light of the recent Omicron surge of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"We look forward to finally welcoming customers onboard our flights to and from Tel Aviv this summer, and offer them substantial connectivity to and through our Dubai hub as COVID-19 travel restrictions continue to ease around the world and more borders open up,” the airline's Chief Commercial Officer, Adnan Kazim, told Emirates News Agency (WAM).
"Emirates is committed to creating new opportunities for business and tourism, and strengthening the bilateral ties between the UAE and Israel," he added. "We are confident that our new services will have a positive impact on enhancing Israel’s connectivity to a wealth of global destinations, and we thank the UAE and Israeli authorities for their ongoing support in making this service possible."
Tal Heinrich is a senior correspondent for both ALL ISRAEL NEWS and ALL ARAB NEWS. She is currently based in New York City. Tal also provides reports and analysis for Israeli Hebrew media Channel 14 News.