Inaugural direct flight between Tel Aviv and Egypt’s Sharm el-Sheikh takes off

El Al official says looking to expand the number of flights to the Egyptian resort beyond three a week, as large numbers of Israelis expected to visit Sinai over Passover

Illustrative: An El Al flight takes off at the Ben Gurion International Airport, outside of Tel Aviv, on October 25, 2021. (Yossi Aloni/Flash90)
Illustrative: An El Al flight takes off at the Ben Gurion International Airport, outside of Tel Aviv, on October 25, 2021. (Yossi Aloni/Flash90)

The first flight on a new direct route between Israel and the Egyptian coastal resort of Sharm el-Sheikh departed from Ben Gurion Airport on Sunday.

The plane touched down about 50 minutes later in Sharm el-Sheikh, located at the southern tip of the Sinai Pensinula.

The agreement to launch the route was announced last month by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s office days before he flew to Sharm el-Sheikh for a trilateral summit with the leaders of Egypt and the United Arab Emirates.

The route is operated by Sundor, a subsidiary of national carrier El Al.

“We started selling tickets for this flight last Wednesday and within an hour they were all gone,” El Al’s Gal Gershon told Army Radio.

He also said the airline intends to add more flights to the route beyond the initial three per week.

In this November 7, 2015 file photo, a tourist swims in the Red Sea, at Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. (AP Photo/Thomas Hartwell, File)

According to the Prime Minister’s Office, Bennett and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi first discussed the route when they met last September in Sharm el-Sheikh. Weeks after the meeting, Egypt’s national airline launched a flight route from Cairo to Tel Aviv.

The meeting between Bennett and Sissi — which marked the first such talks between Israeli and Egyptian leaders in over a decade — came as the two countries have recently moved to bolster diplomatic ties after decades of “cold peace” since the 1979 Camp David Accords.

The launch of the route came days after the start of the weeklong Passover holiday, during which Israelis are expected to flock to Sinai, a popular tourist destination.

Long lines were reported Sunday morning at the Taba border crossing, after Israel’s National Security Council recently scaled back its travel warning for parts of Sinai for the first time in over a decade.

After two years of pandemic isolations and cancellations, many Israelis are itching to get out of the country, and large numbers of travelers are set to visit destinations abroad over Passover.

According to Channel 12 news, half a million travelers are expected to pass through Ben Gurion Airport this week.

An Israel Airports Authority official warned last week of long lines and delays, which he said were exacerbated by a lack of staff.

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