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UAE budget flight touches down in Israel for first time

Charter plane operated by state-owned flydubai ferries group of Israelis to Dubai before official launch of direct route on November 26

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)

A flydubai plane touched down Sunday in Israel for the first time, ahead of the state-owned Emirati airline’s launch of direct flights between Tel Aviv and Dubai.

The flight, which was chartered, was set to ferry a group of 170 businessmen and other Israelis to the United Arab Emirates.

It landed in Dubai hours later.

The plane was not greeted with the pomp that is customary when an airline makes its first trip to Ben Gurion Airport, with the Transportation Ministry saving the celebrations until the official launch of the Tel Aviv-Dubai route on November 26, according to the Ynet news site.

The Emirati budget airliner announced last week that it would offer twice-daily flights between Tel Aviv and Dubai, days after Abu Dhabi gave its final okay to a visa exemption program with Israel.

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.

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