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As ties normalize, El Al announces weekly air cargo service to Dubai

First flight will carry agricultural and high-tech equipment to UAE on September 16, with regular flights to follow

El Al planes parked at Ben Gurion International Airport in Lod, Israel, on August 3, 2020. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
El Al planes parked at Ben Gurion International Airport in Lod, Israel, on August 3, 2020. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Israel’s national carrier El Al on Thursday announced a first cargo flight to Dubai, days after its groundbreaking commercial passenger trip to the United Arab Emirates.

Following on the heels of a deal to normalize Israel-UAE ties, the cargo flight is scheduled to take off from Ben Gurion airport near Tel Aviv on September 16, the airline said in a statement.

Unlike the direct passenger flight, the cargo service will fly via Liege in Belgium before continuing to Dubai, El Al said, without explaining the roundabout route. Saudi Arabia on Wednesday said it would approve flights over its territory between Israel and the UAE.

The Boeing 747 aircraft will be carrying “agricultural and high-tech equipment” from Israel to the Emirates, El Al said, with the route set to become a regular Wednesday fixture in the future.

“The weekly El Al cargo flight to Dubai will enable Israeli companies connectivity in import[ing] and export[ing] from and to Dubai, as well as [connecting to] Asia in transfer from Dubai,” El Al said.

An El Al airliner carrying Israeli and US delegations to Abu Dhabi for talks takes off from Ben Gurion Airport, near Tel Aviv, Israel, Aug. 31, 2020. (Ariel Schalit/AP)

On Monday, an El Al flight from Ben Gurion Airport took a delegation of US and Israeli officials to the UAE capital Abu Dhabi, to draft agreements after a surprise diplomatic breakthrough last month.

The historic direct trip was not only the first official passenger flight between the countries, but also the first official flight of the Israeli carrier over Saudi Arabia.

The El Al plane made the same trip in reverse the following day, when it returned to Tel Aviv.

The United Arab Emirates and Israel are expected to sign the US-brokered accord, Israel’s first with a Gulf nation and only its third with an Arab state, at the White House in the coming weeks.

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