EgyptAir to launch direct Tel Aviv-Cairo flights next month

Route was discreetly operated by subsidiary Air Sinai for decades, in unmarked aircraft, but will now be openly run by national carrier; Israel’s COVID travel rules to Sinai lifted

Tal Schneider is a Political Correspondent at The Times of Israel

An EgyptAir Airbus A320 takes off from Vienna International Airport on August 21, 2015. (AP Photo/Thomas Ranner)
An EgyptAir Airbus A320 takes off from Vienna International Airport on August 21, 2015. (AP Photo/Thomas Ranner)

EgyptAir, the national airline of Egypt, is slated to operate direct flights between Cairo and Tel Aviv from early next month, The Times of Israel has learned.

Once flights start after the Sukkot holiday, there are expected to be four direct commercial flights a week between Ben Gurion International Airport and Cairo.

Currently, the only flights between Israel and Cairo are operated by Air Sinai, a subsidiary of EgyptAir, which operates the flights in unmarked planes without the Egyptian flag. The Air Sinai flights between Tel Aviv and Cairo have operated continuously since the 1980s in order to fulfill the terms of the 1979 peace deal between Israel and Egypt, but were kept discreet amid lingering hostilities between the nations.

Once flights are relaunched by EgyptAir, they will be operated by the airline’s fully marked aircraft.

Also on Monday, Israel lifted the travel restrictions on citizens visiting the Sinai Peninsula just days ahead of Sukkot, a popular period for the travel destination.

After months of restrictions due to COVID-19, Israeli government limits on the number of Israelis allowed to travel to Sinai have been lifted.

Israeli tourists at Ras Sheitan in the Sinai Peninsula, Egypt, on April 5, 2021. (Jacob Magid/Times of Israel)

“We have managed to find a way to both allow unlimited crossings and to also observe coronavirus regulations,” said Transportation Minister Merav Michaeli. “Our freedom of movement is a basic right and must be guarded.”

Beginning Monday, the Taba crossing point for cars between Israel and Sinai will become fully operational with no limit on the number of entry permits, and will extend its opening hours.

Last month, Israel scaled back its security travel advisory for the Sinai for the first time in years. The decision was made after Egyptian intelligence head Abbas Kamel visited Israel for high-level talks on Gaza.

For the past several years, the entire Sinai Peninsula has had the highest possible travel warning, Level 1, a “very high concrete threat,” due to the presence of Islamic State and other terror groups in the area. The National Security Council, however, recently changed its warning for the southern Sinai Peninsula to Level 3, a “basic concrete threat,” under which Israelis are still “recommended to not visit,” but are no longer instructed to leave.

During Kamel’s visit, he extended an invitation to Prime Minister Naftali Bennett to visit Egypt and meet with President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi in Cairo. Last month, Bennett said that he had accepted the invitation and expected to travel to Egypt soon to meet Sissi — the first trip by an Israeli premier to Egypt since 2011.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

Most Popular
read more: