UAE budget airline flydubai to start Tel Aviv flights from end of month

Tickets on sale for twice-daily service starting November 26, days after Abu Dhabi ratified visa exemption program with Israel

In this Oct. 27, 2010 file photo, a Boeing 737 being delivered to FlyDubai is seen in Seattle (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)
In this Oct. 27, 2010 file photo, a Boeing 737 being delivered to FlyDubai is seen in Seattle (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)

The United Arab Emirates’ state-owned flydubai airline announced on Wednesday that it would begin to offer flights to Tel Aviv from the end of the month, days after Abu Dhabi gave its final okay to a visa exemption program with Israel.

The low-cost airline said that tickets were on sale for flights from November 26, and that it would offer a twice-daily route between Tel Aviv and Dubai.

The airline said in a statement that passengers would be able to use the flights not only to visit the UAE, but also for stopovers on the way to the Indian Ocean, Far East and Africa.

“Following the recent bilateral agreement, the start of scheduled flights will contribute to economic development and create further opportunities for investment in pursuit of our shared interests and values,” said the airline’s CEO Ghaith Al Ghaith. “With the start of services there will be the option for increased accessibility to the UAE as well as onwards to the Indian Ocean, Far East and Africa reducing total journey times by several hours.”

Ghaith Al Ghaith, chief executive officer of Flydubai during a press conference in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, March 19, 2016 (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)

On Sunday, the UAE ratified an agreement with Israel that will exempt tourists from both nations from visa requirements when visiting the other country.

The agreement still must be ratified by the Israeli cabinet and Knesset before it enters into force. The Knesset last month approved Israel’s normalization deal with the UAE by an overwhelming majority, all but ensuring that the visa program will be confirmed in the near future.

Despite that, with a few exceptions, non-Israeli tourists are currently not permitted to enter Israel under coronavirus restrictions, although the UAE is classified as a “green” country under Health Ministry’s regulations, meaning that travelers returning to Israel are not required to quarantine.

Last month, Israeli airline Arkia announced direct flights to Dubai, starting at $149 for a one-way ticket. Arkia said the daily flights will begin on January 3, and some were already available for order on its website.

The airline was 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.

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