While EU countries talk of boycotts and dialing back ties with Israel, at least one European country — Ireland — wants deeper and better quality ties with the Start-Up Nation.
“It’s important for Israel to be connected to Ireland, for many reasons,” believes Clyde Hutchinson, head of the Ireland-Israel Business Network. Dublin, he said, “can serve as the international base for Israeli companies for their European operations, especially since it is exactly halfway between Tel Aviv and New York.”
Sounds good to Hutchinson — but it can’t happen, he feels, unless there is a direct air connection between Israel and Ireland. So, Hutchinson has taken it upon himself to convince at least one international carrier — either Aer Lingus or El Al, the national carrier of either country, or a European discounter like Ryanair — to establish a direct Tel Aviv-Dublin route.
To make that happen, Hutchinson has organized a petition “to connect two of the world’s most vibrant and entrepreneurial cities but which do not have a direct flight,” allowing travelers between the two cities to reach their destination in approximately five hours, nearly half the time it usually takes now, with travelers usually stopping off in London — itself a five-and-a-half-hour flight from Tel Aviv — and waiting around to connect for the 90-minute flight between London and Dublin.
Just who, other than vacationers and Israelis with family in Ireland, would fill the seats on those planes? Plenty of people, said Hutchinson. “Dublin is the European headquarters for many of the tech giants such as Google, Facebook, Yahoo, eBay, Paypal, Hubspot, Dropbox, Airbnb, and others,” and executives and workers of these companies are constantly moving back and forth for meetings and events.
“Many multinationals have their Israeli desks based in Dublin, so not having a direct flight is a huge inconvenience for those doing business between both countries,” added Hutchinson.
And, of course, a direct flight would be a boon for travel-happy Israelis, who are always seeking out the next best destination. “Ireland has always been an attractive destination for Israeli tourists to sample the culture, music, and, of course, Guinness beer. The Lonely Planet travel guide recently placed Ireland fifth in a list of top countries to visit,” Hutchinson went on. “Direct flights will allow more Israelis to visit the Emerald Isle.”
It’s perhaps even more important for Ireland to foster a stronger business relationship with Israel, claimed Hutchinson. “As the Irish economy emerges from the brink of collapse to once again become Europe’s fastest growing economy and tech ecosystem, it is vastly important that Ireland has strong links with the original Start-Up Nation. Direct flights will encourage more collaboration between tech companies to allow both to join forces and target customers in bigger economies, such as the US and China. As the start-up ecosystem in Ireland continues to grow, it’s important to have direct links with the leading tech centers, such as Tel Aviv and San Francisco.”
And Irish tourists — especially religious Catholics — will benefit as well. “Israel has long been a destination for Irish people taking a dip in the Dead Sea to pilgrims visiting Jerusalem and other holy sites,” added Hutchinson. “It’s obvious that a direct flight will allow for more people to enjoy the sites, culture and food that Israel has to offer.”
So far, the petition is doing well, claimed Hutchinson; it appears that there’s a lot of interest, on both sides, for direct flights. “Through our petition, we can show the airlines there’s a strong demand for a direct DUB-TLV flight, providing essential market research on how profitable the route could be and a supply of potential loyal flyers,” said Hutchinson.
He added, “We already have enough sign-ups to fill 1,315 seats — and that’s just a day or so after we launched it. I have no doubt we will get thousands more.”