Etihad Airways announced the launch of daily regular flights from Abu Dhabi International Airport (AUH), the UAE, to Ben Gurion Airport (TLV), Israel, starting from March 2021. The launch of regular flights follows the stabilization of diplomatic ties between the UAE and Israel after signing the Abraham Accords Peace Agreement between the two countries in September 2020.
Etihad Airways plans to begin regular operations to Tel Aviv on March 28, 2021. The service would „provide greater choice and convenience for point-to-point business and leisure travelers between the UAE and Israel“, announced the state-owned carrier in the press release on November 16, 2020. The airline hoped that the direct flights between AUH and TLV would encourage the growth of trade and tourism sectors between the two countries as well as the whole region.
Mohammad Al Bulooki, the CEO of Etihad Aviation Group, called the commencement of scheduled flights “a historic moment“ for the airline.
“The new service, effective from March 28, 2021, will provide greater choice and convenience for point-to-point business and leisure travelers between the UAE and Israel. It will not only promote direct inbound tourism to Abu Dhabi but will also allow Emiratis and UAE residents to discover Israel’s historical sites, beaches, restaurants, and nightlife“, said Al Bulooki.
Etihad Airways became the first Gulf state airline to operate the route after it made the first passenger flight, bringing Israeli delegation to the UAE capital for a visit, on October 19, 2020. Even though the airline did not make any announcement about the aircraft that would fly the new route, the Etihad reservations system indicates that the route might be operated with one of its Airbus A321-200 jets.
Etihad is not the only one air carrier that craves to operate regular flights on the newly-opened market. On November 5, 2020, flydubai announced the launch of regular operations between Dubai International Airport (DXB) and Tel Aviv Ben Gurion Airport (TLV). The airline expected to start the twice-daily route on November 26, 2020.
Earlier in October 2020, Israel’s national airline El Al started regular operations from Tel Aviv to Abu Dhabi while Emirates Airlines announced expectations to start direct Dubai-Tel Aviv route in January 2021.