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Israir announces it will launch Tel Aviv-Abu Dhabi route

New line will cost $300 each way and take only 3.5 hours thanks to okay from Saudi Arabia to use its airspace; flights to start after final approval of Israeli and UAE authorities

Illustrative: An Israir flight taking off from Ben Gurion International Airport, Tel Aviv. September 3, 2015. (Moshe Shai/Flash90)
Illustrative: An Israir flight taking off from Ben Gurion International Airport, Tel Aviv. September 3, 2015. (Moshe Shai/Flash90)

Israeli carrier Israir announced Thursday that it will begin offering direct flights from Ben Gurion Airport to Abu Dhabi, amid high hopes for burgeoning tourist and business trade after Israel and the United Arab Emirates agreed to normalize ties last month.

The airline said it would begin operating the flights immediately, pending final approval from Israeli and Emirati authorities. No exact date for launching the route was given, though several reports have speculated that the direct line would be unveiled next month.

El Al Israel Airlines and United Arab Emirates carriers Etihad Airways and Emirates will offer flights to Dubai, according to the Globes Business Daily. Israir also submitted a request to launch a Tel-Aviv-Dubai line last week, Ynet reported.

Israir passengers will fly on the airline’s Airbus 320 for a flight duration of just three and a half hours, thanks to approvals from Saudi Arabia and Bahrain to use their airspace.

One-way tickets will go on sale for $299 and a four-day vacation package including lodging at a five-star hotel will cost just $699, the airline said.

“In recent weeks, we have witnessed an increase in the demand from the Israeli public to return to flying and vacationing in countries that Israelis are allowed to enter without the obligation of isolation, and there is no doubt that there will be great demand for Abu Dhabi as well,” said Gil Stav, Israir’s vice-president of marketing and sales.

The Emirates is one of some 20 countries that Israelis can visit without having to quarantine for two weeks upon their return.

Local authorities in Abu Dhabi said this week that they had instructed all hotels in the city to prepare kosher food options, in apparent expectation of hordes of Jewish tourists in the aftermath of next week’s signing of a peace treaty between Israel and the United Arab Emirates.

On Wednesday, senior White House adviser Jared Kushner told reporters that Saudi Arabia and Bahrain will allow all flights to and from Israel to use their airspace in a significant change of policy.

A signing ceremony for the Israel-UAE peace deal is scheduled for the White House on September 15.

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