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Israeli airlines launch direct route to Morocco’s Marrakesh

El Al flight lounge decorated with traditional carpets; Israir captain: ‘There is great excitement from everyone involved in this historic event’

An El Al plane is seen parked at Ben Gurion Airport near Tel Aviv, April 18, 2021. (Yossi Aloni/Flash90)
An El Al plane is seen parked at Ben Gurion Airport near Tel Aviv, April 18, 2021. (Yossi Aloni/Flash90)

Israir and El Al were set to launch direct flights between Israel and Morocco’s Marrakesh Sunday, nearly eight months after the two countries reached a US-backed normalization deal.

“There is great excitement from everyone involved in this historic event,” Israir Flight 6H061 captain Ishay Zacks told Army Radio Sunday morning.

“We are busy studying the destination, administrative coordination, preparing the plane,” he added, shortly before the flight was set to depart.

Israir’s flight was scheduled to depart at 8:15 a.m. local time, and El Al’s at 11:20 a.m.

The El Al flight lounge for flight LY553 was decorated with Moroccan flags, carpets, and other items.

Morocco was one of four regional states to normalize ties with Israel in 2020, along with Bahrain, Sudan and the United Arab Emirates.

The move came as the administration of former US president Donald Trump recognized Morocco’s sovereignty over Western Sahara, a disputed and divided former Spanish colony.

Both airlines’ round trip tickets to Marrakesh cost around $500.

El Al operated a first direct commercial flight between Tel Aviv and Rabat in December 2020.

Morocco is home to North Africa’s largest Jewish community, which numbers around 3,000. Some 700,000 Jews of Moroccan origin live in Israel.

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