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Israel’s Ben-Gurion Airport records its busiest month in March

Israeli traffic to Dubai increases amid general growth in air travel

Travelers at Ben-Gurion International Airport, Mar. 27, 2023. (Photo: Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

Ben-Gurion International Airport, on the outskirts of Tel Aviv, recorded its busiest month ever in March, with almost 2 million travelers passing through the airport. 

According to the Israel Airports Authority, a total of 1,983,428 airline passengers made use of Israel’s main airport, including both international and domestic flights. Israel also operates the Ramon Airport located outside of Eilat in Israel's southern region.

The number of travelers at Ben-Gurion in March represents a 57% increase year-over-year from 2022. It also represents expansion compared to pre-COVID travel numbers. 

Israel’s national airline, El Al, also announced a record high number of passengers during the same timespan, stating that 432,365 passengers flew on its passenger planes this March, a nearly 50% increase in year-over-year growth from last March. 

El Al had the highest traffic of any airline at Ben-Gurion Airport in March, overseeing 22.9% of total traffic at the international airport. Budget airlines, mostly from Europe and the United States, also reported high traffic through Ben-Gurion airport.

The most popular city destination for passengers was Dubai, with 117,239 passengers flying from Ben-Gurion to the Emirati city in March. 

The United Arab Emirates has become a popular travel destination for Israelis since the signing of the Abraham Accords in 2020. There are 12 daily flights between Ben-Gurion and Dubai. In addition, the UAE and Israel recently announced that they will recognize each other’s driver’s licenses. 

Despite the normalization of ties between the two nations and the signing of a trade agreement, more Israeli tourists visit the UAE than Emiratis to Israel. Israel’s consul general to the UAE, Liron Zaslansky, said she is working to change that. 

“We’ve been working slowly and thinking carefully about everything,” Zaslansky said. “First, we are trying to create a higher profile for Israel in Dubai...We want to give Emiratis and other nationals living here a glimpse of Israel because the region was used to only seeing Israel through the pages of newspapers and politics.” 

Zaslansky mentioned Israel's participation in a food festival and the first-ever Holocaust memorial in an Arab country as examples of this.

“The end goal is to make it a normal thing to have Israel, Israelis and Israeli culture here in Dubai so that it is not something that is out of the ordinary and so the bilateral relations are the same here as they are in the U.S. or in Europe,” said Zaslansky. 

The most popular country destination for those leaving Ben-Gurion was the United States, with 190,249 passengers flying out of the airport to the U.S. during the month of March. 

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

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