Etihad makes history with passenger flight from UAE to Israel

Oct 19, 2020

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Etihad Airways Flight 9607 made history when it landed at Israel’s Ben-Gurion International Airport near Tel Aviv on Monday morning.

The flight – operated with a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner – was touted as first-ever commercial passenger flight to fly between the United Arab Emirates and Israel, and it appears that more could soon be on the way.

Monday’s flight comes after previous flights between the nations that were more ceremonial in nature. In May, Etihad completed the first-ever known flight from the UAE to Israel on an Airbus A330-200 that brought a load of cargo destined for the Palestinian Authority. In August, a Boeing 737-900ER of Israeli carrier El Al flew from Tel Aviv (TLV) to Abu Dhabi with a delegation that included Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law and advisor.

It all comes amid a broader opening of relations between Israel and the UAE that was formalised in August.

Etihad chairman Mohamed Mubarak Al Mazrouei acknowledged Monday’s flight in a statement, saying his carrier “is delighted to be leading the way” in opening new flights between Israel and the UAE.

Etihad has yet to add a regular schedule for Tel Aviv, but seems set on doing so. The carrier even launched a Hebrew-language booking site as it touted its future plans.

“We are just starting to explore the long-term potential of these newly forged relationships, which will be sure to greatly benefit the economies of both nations, particularly in the areas of trade and tourism, and ultimately the people who call this diverse and wonderful region home,” Al Mazrouei added.

Monday’s flight came just a day after UAE and Israeli officials agreed to a deal that would allow regularly scheduled flights between the nations.

The Times of Israel says the deal will allow up to 28 weekly flights between Tel Aviv and the UAE cities of Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Additionally, the pact calls for up to 10 cargo flights per week between the countries and “unlimited” charter flights from the UAE to the southern Israeli resort city of Eilat.

The agreement is expected to be formally signed on Tuesday.

“The aviation agreement will enable tourism, trade, and business between the countries, and is one of the first, important fruits of the peace agreement,” Israel’s Transportation Ministry said in a statement.

More: When will international travel return? A country-by-country guide to coronavirus travel restrictions

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