Gulf Air Will Fly To Israel, Partner With EL AL

Filed Under: El Al, Other Airlines

I’ve talked a lot about how diplomatic relations have recently been established between Israel and the UAE, which is leading to nonstop flights between the two countries. We’re seeing EL AL fly to Dubai, Etihad fly to Tel Aviv, etc.

Well, these aren’t the only countries with newly established relations. Israel and Bahrain have also recently signed a peace treaty, and that has positive implications for aviation.

Gulf Air will fly to Tel Aviv

Gulf Air, the national airline of Bahrain, has announced that it will start flying to Israel. Specifically, as of January 7, 2021, the airline will fly 2x weekly flights from Bahrain to Tel Aviv. That flight covers a distance of 1,030 miles in each direction.

Gulf Air will start flying to Tel Aviv

The flights aren’t yet on sale, so we don’t have a sense of which aircraft will be used, what the flight schedule looks like, etc. The 2x weekly service sounds more in line with demand than what we’re seeing between Israel and the UAE, where I can’t help but feel like there’s a bit too much capacity right off the bat.

While these will be the first regularly scheduled commercial flights between the two countries, Gulf Air did operate a service to & from Israel last week using a Boeing 787-9, to carry a government delegation to sign these agreements.

On December 1, GF972 operated from Bahrain to Tel Aviv in a flight time of 2hr28min, and on December 3, GF973 operated from Tel Aviv to Bahrain in a flight time of 2hr5min. The flight times were so quick because the plane flew over Saudi Arabian airspace, which wasn’t previously possible for flights to & from Israel.

There’s significance to the flight numbers — 972 is the country code for Israel, while 973 is the country code for Bahrain.

Gulf Air’s 787-9 business class

EL AL & Gulf Air will have a partnership

Not only will Gulf Air fly to Tel Aviv, but Gulf Air and EL AL have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU), which happened during Bahrain’s state visit to Israel this past week.

With this MOU, the airlines will discuss potential joint codeshare operations between the two countries, as well as on the global networks beyond the two carriers’ hubs.

The airlines are also planning further commercial cooperation in the areas of loyalty, cargo, engineering, and travel technology.

EL AL recently signed a similar agreement with Etihad, though the exact details of the agreement remain to be seen. I’m always happy to see more airline partnerships, though the concept of the these national airlines cooperating almost seems more political and ceremonial than practical.

When it comes to frequent flyer reciprocity, the truth is that neither EL AL nor Gulf Air have terribly compelling loyalty programs, so in both cases I’d personally earn or redeem with another program.

EL AL & Gulf Air are launching a partnership

Bottom line

Gulf Air will be launching flights from Bahrain to Israel as of January 2021, following the signing of a peace agreement between the two countries. On top of that, EL AL and Gulf Air plan to cooperate, and we should see frequent flyer reciprocity between the two airlines.

It’s awesome to see air agreements being signed between countries that didn’t previously have them. It makes the world a smaller place, in a good way.

Comments
  1. Also, the gulf conflict seems to be coming to an end, which’s great for aviation and travel enthusiast 🙂

  2. I am so glad for Israel and Bahrain to be prospering together through this new partnership!!

    It is amazing news for both sides of the agreement!

    It is amazing that El Al now has partnerships with both Gulf Air and Eithiad.

  3. I was in Dubai this week. There were lots of tourists from Israel. Very anecdotal evidence, but it surprised me, and indicated that actually there is quite a lot of demand.

  4. @William

    What a courageous man president elect Biden was to make peace deals in the Middle East. He deserves a novel peace prize

  5. @ William

    My thought exactly. Just waiting for the anti-Trump bandwagon to start on and on about this isn’t about a peace deal or a good thing. They would rather see the Middle East in flames that acknowledge that this was his doing.

  6. Sorry William, but Joe Biden had absolutely nothing to do with the the peace treaties signed between Israel and these gulf states, nor with Sudan.

    This work was achieved exclusively by the hard work of President Trump and his Secretary of State.

    Just so you don’t get ahead of yourself re the pandemic, the new medical discoveries and the plans for their distribution were also exclusively achieved by President Trump and his medical administration.

  7. @Bill

    We flew Gulf Air back in the 90’s and 00’s at which time it was one of the better ways to fly AUH-LHR unfortunately via Bahrain. At that time it was a full service airline and their 767’s were very comfortable in Y.

    Alcohol might be restricted once over Saudi but since they are not landing in Saudi I suspect not.

    The flight from Dammam to Bahrain takes about 35 minutes and was a favorite way for Saudi ‘princes’ to have a wet and wild weekend in Bahrain (which, like the UAE, has no problem with alcohol). It prevented them from having to pass through the border point at the end of the causeway which might have been problematic. The flight was reputed to be one of the most expensive in the world on a per mile basis.

    In Canada, like the US, the press is so far left of center it is impossible to read anything positive about the great unwashed centre-right politicians. It will be very interesting to see how history records the last 4 years. As much as Clinton and Obama tried to achieve some form of peace in the ME, only the current administration has succeeded. For someone who has lived for more than a decade in the ME the change is mind blowing.

  8. @Takhliq Khan here comes the Pakistani who is worried now that Imran Khan won’t find easy cash from Qatar anymore I totally don’t understand why Pakistani people think they are smart when their GDP is a complete joke !

  9. I’d assume they’d initially fly the A320LRs (the one with the lie-flat business class seats), and if the demand beats their expectations, then they’ll deploy the 788.

  10. @Ghadir,
    What is this all about?
    My comment was about the Qatar blockade and not about what Pakistan is or what Pakistan does. Now if you are from UAE, Saudi Arabia or Bahrain, let me ask you this.
    Just because God gave you oil, you think you are smart?

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