Israeli airline Arkia on Tuesday announced direct flights to Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, starting at $149 for a one-way ticket. Arkia said the daily flights will begin on January 3, 2021 and some were already available for order on its website.
The airline is Israel’s first to announce a date for direct commercial flights to the Gulf Kingdom since Israel and the UAE signed a normalization agreement last month.
The flights will last 3-4 hours and will continue at least until March, 2021, the company said.
Oz Berlowitz, CEO of Arkia, said in a statement, “The decision to start a flight line to Dubai was made after increasing requests from our customers, private business clients and many requests from groups organizing conferences.
The airline is checking into the possibility of launching flights to Bahrain and Sharjah, another city in the UAE.
The flight lines are pending approval from authorities, which is expected to be issued soon, the statement said.
The company has also signed commercial agreements with tourism companies in the UAE and will offer vacation packages.
On Monday, Etihad Airways Flight EY9607 — lauded as the first commercial shuttle from the UAE to Israel — landed at Ben-Gurion Airport. That flight came a day after the two nations agreed to enable 28 weekly direct flights between their territories. The flight arrived without passengers but later ferried an Israeli travel and tourism delegation to Abu Dhabi.
On Tuesday, a senior Emirati delegation made a landmark visit to the Jewish state, saying it wished to facilitate the reciprocal opening of embassies in Tel Aviv and Abu Dhabi “as soon as possible,” Israel’s Foreign Ministry said.
The UAE delegation earlier signed four bilateral agreements with Israel, including a visa waiver agreement.
This visa exemption treaty, which needs to be ratified by both countries before coming into force, is Israel’s first such agreement with an Arab country.
On Thursday, the Knesset approved Israel’s normalization deal with the UAE by an overwhelming majority, all but ensuring that it will be ratified in the near future.
Arkia operates flights between Tel Aviv and Eilat as well as trips to some international locations, including, currently, to Greece.
Israel’s airlines suffered catastrophic losses due to the pandemic, with flagship carrier El Al firing the majority of its employees and nearly collapsing entirely.
Visits to the UAE and Bahrain, which have sparked excitement in Israel, could see travel companies recoup some losses.