EgyptAir Will Fly To Israel, Replace Mysterious Air Sinai

EgyptAir Will Fly To Israel, Replace Mysterious Air Sinai

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It looks like EgyptAir will soon start “officially” flying to Israel, which would also mean the end of one of the world’s most mysterious airlines.

EgyptAir wants to fly to Israel 3x daily

Globes is reporting that EgyptAir has requested permission to operate three daily nonstop flights between Cairo, Egypt, and Tel Aviv, Israel. This is a short ~245 mile flight, so three roundtrip daily flights could easily be operated with a single aircraft.

We don’t yet know the timeline with which this service will start, though I expect it could be months rather than weeks. Representatives from EgyptAir apparently plan to travel to Israel next week for a meeting about this topic.

EgyptAir could soon be flying to Israel with its own planes

As I’ll talk more about below, EgyptAir already kinda sorta flies to Israel, using its subsidiary, Air Sinai. EgyptAir “officially” operating this flight would be quite significant, not to mention that we’re talking about a huge service increase, as the route is currently served up to once daily.

This development comes at a time when Israel is seeing increased cooperation with several Arab countries. For example, the UAE has normalized relations with Israel, while Saudi Arabia is now allowing flights to & from Israel to use its airspace.

EgyptAir will replace subsidiary Air Sinai

There are already nonstop flights between Israel and Egypt, but they’re operated by Air Sinai, which I’ve written about in the past. Since 1982, Air Sinai has been operating flights exclusively between Cairo and Tel Aviv.

In reality this is a paper-airline, in the sense that Air Sinai operates a fleet of two (unmarked) Airbus A220s that actually belong to EgyptAir. Air Sinai operates these flights on a wet lease basis, which is to say that the planes and crews are both provided by EgyptAir.


Air Sinai A220 (image courtesy Anna Zvereva)

The airline still has its own code and flight numbers, though — rather than using the “MS” designator for EgyptAir, Air Sinai instead uses “4D” as the airline code.

The history here is that in 1979 Egypt and Israel signed a historic peace treaty, and one condition of that was that the two countries had to introduce an active civil aviation route within three years. That’s how Air Sinai was born in 1982.

However, the treaty between the countries wasn’t otherwise popular in the Arab world, so EgyptAir didn’t want to fly these routes in an “obvious” way, which is why Air Sinai was created. This way the route could be operated by EgyptAir planes and by EgyptAir crews, without the association being so obvious.

With Israel improving relations with other countries, it looks like EgyptAir is ready to “come out” about this route, and fly with “official” EgyptAir planes.

Bottom line

As much as I loved the intrigue of Air Sinai, ultimately this concept has only existed due to a need to hide that an airline is flying to a certain country. I’m happy to see that EgyptAir not only plans to take over this route with its regular aircraft, but also plans to increase service significantly.

Flying to & from Israel sure will get easier in the coming months, between this and all of the other new services being added.

What do you make of EgyptAir officially replacing Air Sinai for Israel flights?

(Tip of the hat to Micah)

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  1. AJO

    “Janet” is a much more mysterious airline...

  2. Aaron

    "Great to see the flag carrier of Egypt wil now officially fly to Europe."

    Er, it already does, and Israel isn't in Europe anyway, so not sure what the point of that statement is?

  3. Alex

    @Milo nobody’s too young to know about those, but there’s also nothing mysterious about them…or maybe you and I have vastly different understandings of the word ‘mysterious’…

  4. Nate nate

    Ben, are you sure this line is true:

    "The history here is that in 1979 Egypt and Israel signed a historic peace treaty, and one condition of that was that the two countries had to introduce an active civil aviation route within three years."

    This sounded fishy to me because the obligation to maintain air service shouldn't be one way (i.e., shouldn't be solely be an obligation of an Egyptian airline).

    I looked at...

    Ben, are you sure this line is true:

    "The history here is that in 1979 Egypt and Israel signed a historic peace treaty, and one condition of that was that the two countries had to introduce an active civil aviation route within three years."

    This sounded fishy to me because the obligation to maintain air service shouldn't be one way (i.e., shouldn't be solely be an obligation of an Egyptian airline).

    I looked at the treaty (https://peacemaker.un.org/sites/peacemaker.un.org/files/EG%20IL_790326_Egypt%20and%20Israel%20Treaty%20of%20Peace.pdf) and it doesn't have the provision you claim it has.

    The treaty does make a reference to a future civil aviation agreement. That agreement is here:
    http://www.israel.org/MFA/ForeignPolicy/MFADocuments/Yearbook4/Pages/Annex%20X%20-%20Air%20transport%20agreement%20between%20Israel%20a.aspx

    That also doesn't obligate any airline to operate the Cairo-Tel Aviv route.

    Perhaps there is an annex or another treaty that requires what you claimed, but in my 5 minutes of internet research, I couldn't find it. Perhaps you can add a source.

    My guess is that your source is this article, which is a secondary source:
    https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/air-sinai-ghost-flight#:~:text=The%20unmarked%20plane%20belonged%20to,recognize%20the%20State%20of%20Israel.

    But that article doesn't have a citation to a primary source.

  5. DC

    This is great news. Since Air Sinai and Egyptair has a monopoly in the route, fares were really expensive. So, with flights sold as MS, being able to redeem *A miles on the route will be valuable.

  6. brteacher

    I wonder if American Christian groups traveling to Israel on Holy Land tours would be interested in a one-day stopover in Egypt to see the Pyramids. I think that many would.

  7. Milo

    “Most mysterious airlines”?

    Maybe you are too young to know British Asia Airways. Or Australia Asia Airlines. Or Japan Asia Airways. Or KLM Asia. Or Swissair Asia.

  8. derek

    In order to reduce travel during the pandemic, Biden should require all US carriers to fly in white planes with no livery like Air Sinai.

  9. Franklin

    @Sharon, you don't think that Israelis would have an interest in having a quick flight to one of the largest, most historic and fascinating cities in the entire world? Or that they might like to connect to AirEgypt's network? Or go to Egypt's many historical and natural sites?

    Also, 1 out of every five Israeli citizens is Arab, most of them Muslim. They may have even more reasons to want to go to Cairo easily and quickly.

  10. Malc

    This seems strange to me. Don't Egyptians need permission from the govt of Egypt to travel to Israel? And in these times, attracting the attention of the govt is not terribly smart. So it's hard to understand what could drive the demand for these flights.

  11. WD

    @Sharon EgyptAir has flown to multiple places in Europe for many, many years and Israel is technically in the Middle East...

  12. Sharon

    Great to see the flag carrier of Egypt wil now officially fly to Europe.

    What I’m wondering is where is the increase in demand going to come from?

    There is very high demand between Israel and UAE, but Egypt, I’m not so sure?

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AJO

“Janet” is a much more mysterious airline...

Aaron

"Great to see the flag carrier of Egypt wil now officially fly to Europe." Er, it already does, and Israel isn't in Europe anyway, so not sure what the point of that statement is?

Alex

@Milo nobody’s too young to know about those, but there’s also nothing mysterious about them…or maybe you and I have vastly different understandings of the word ‘mysterious’…

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