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.
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)