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Israel, UAE agree on 28 weekly direct flights between Emirates, Tel Aviv

Governments also okay 10 cargo flights a week and unlimited charter flights to Eilat; reports indicate flights could launch within weeks

An Etihad airlines cargo plane at Ben-Gurion airport on June 9, 2020. (Moni Shiffer/Israel Airports Authority)
An Etihad airlines cargo plane at Ben-Gurion airport on June 9, 2020. (Moni Shiffer/Israel Airports Authority)

Israel and the United Arab Emirates agreed Sunday to enable 28 weekly flights between Tel Aviv and Abu Dhabi and Dubai, following the normalization agreement between the countries, signed last month.

The agreement will enable 10 weekly cargo flights, while charter flights between the UAE and Israel’s Ramon Airport, near Eilat, will be unlimited.

The two nations’ transportation ministries agreed on the deal, to be signed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday, at Ben Gurion Airport.

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

Media reports indicated the flights were set to begin within weeks. On Tuesday, an Israeli official said direct flights would be postponed until January because of the coronavirus. An explanation for the contradiction in the reports was not immediately clear.

UAE delegates wave to the departing El Al plane at the end of Israel-UAE normalization talks in Abu Dhabi, September 1, 2020. (El Al Spokesperson’s Office)

Last week, the UAE’s Etihad Airways launched a Hebrew-language website, with high hopes for burgeoning tourism and business trade.

The message, “Welcome from Abu Dhabi,” greets users as they enter the website, with different sections on safety protocols and other destinations offered by the airline also appearing in Hebrew.

Israeli carrier Israir announced last month that it will offer direct flights from Ben Gurion Airport to Abu Dhabi. Israeli national carrier El Al will also reportedly offer flights on the route.

Local authorities in Abu Dhabi have instructed all hotels in the city to prepare kosher food options ahead of the expected influx of tourists from Israel.

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