Israeli airlines may halt flights to Dubai over security concerns

Issue stems from dispute over security arrangements at airport; freeze would also lead to Emirati airlines halting flights; Shin Bet mulls rerouting planes to Abu Dhabi

The Flydubai gate at Tel Aviv airport, on December 7, 2020. (Shoshanna Solomon/Times of Israel)
The Flydubai gate at Tel Aviv airport, on December 7, 2020. (Shoshanna Solomon/Times of Israel)

Israeli airlines may soon halt flights to Dubai following disagreements between the Shin Bet and authorities in the United Arab Emirates over security arrangements in the central Gulf city, according to multiple media reports on Saturday.

Israeli officials quoted by Walla, Haaretz and others said that the Prime Minister’s Office, The Foreign Ministry, Transportation Ministry and the Shin Bet are currently in talks with the Emirati government to resolve the issue.

A Foreign Ministry source said that the disagreements were merely “technical” and would be hammered out in the coming days.

Senior Israeli officials were also quoted as saying that if no agreement was reached, Israeli flights to Dubai will cease on Tuesday. This will also lead Israel to halt flights from Dubai to Ben Gurion Airport by FlyDubai and Emirates, in order to not give those companies an advantage over the Israeli airlines.

Flights to the UAE capital of Abu Dhabi are unaffected, but the city is a far less popular destination than Dubai.

Later confirming the report, the Shin Bet stated that “over the past few months, security disputes have emerged between the competent bodies in Dubai and the Israeli aviation security system, in a way that does not allow for the responsible enactment of security for Israeli aviation.”

However, the agency said, efforts are still ongoing to try and resolve the dispute.

Supporters of Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi rebels carry a mock rocket as they demonstrate in the capital Sanaa to denounce a reported airstrike by the Saudi-led coalition on a prison in the country’s rebel-held north, on January 21, 2022. (Mohammed Huwais/AFP)

“At the same time, if the flights of Israeli companies are stopped on this route, the possibility of transferring Israeli flights to Abu Dhabi is being examined,” it said.

“It should be emphasized that the disputes are solely on a security basis relating to the standards used at the airport in Dubai, and are not tied to regional diplomatic relations.”

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