Wow: Direct Flights Coming Between Israel & UAE

Filed Under: El Al, Emirates

Israel and the United Arab Emirates have made an exciting announcement today, which has major implications for aviation and tourism.

Israel & UAE agree to normalized relations

Israel and the United Arab Emirates have agreed to full normalization of relations between the two countries going forward.

This diplomatic breakthrough is intended to advance peace in the Middle East, and delegations from the two countries are expected to meet in the coming weeks to sign bilateral agreements.

Agreements will be signed related to:

  • Culture
  • Direct flights
  • Embassies
  • Energy
  • Environment
  • Healthcare
  • Investment
  • Security
  • Technology
  • Telecommunications

It’s hoped that this will spur economic growth, enhance technological innovation, and forge closer people-to-people relations. It’s also stated that the two counties share a similar outlook regarding the threats and opportunities in the region, as well as a shared commitment to promoting stability through diplomatic engagement, increased economic integration, and closer security cooperation.

While we’ll have to see what finalized agreements look like, this sounds like a move in the right direction.

The UAE & Israel will be normalizing relations

Nonstop flights coming between Israel & the UAE

The implications of this agreement go way beyond aviation, though that’s what this blog is about, and therefore that’s what we’ll focus on. It’s so cool that we’ll finally see nonstop flights between Israel and the United Arab Emirates.

Could Emirates bring some much needed competition to Israel?

As I think about the concept of direct flights between Israel and the UAE, a few things come to mind:

  • With Israel and the UAE improving relations, I wonder if we’ll see all the same airspace restrictions we’ve seen in the past; in other words, will Emirates have to fly around Saudi Arabia to get to Israel?
  • The aviation market in Israel has lacked competition for many routes, so Emirates and Etihad should add some great new choices and bring lower fares
  • I wonder what kind of a bilateral aviation agreement we’ll see signed, and how restrictive it will be; will airlines from both countries be able to add as much service as they’d like, or should we expect something along the lines of one frequency per country per day?
  • This can’t be good for EL AL, which was struggling even before the pandemic; that will probably only get worse with Gulf carrier competition

The competition won’t be good for EL AL, which was struggling already

Bottom line

Peace is always a good thing, and this seems like a step in the right direction for the Middle East. I look forward to seeing the details of this development, especially as it impacts aviation and tourism.

What are you expecting from this agreement as it impacts aviation and tourism?

Comments
  1. I don’t see this having anything to do with tourism. More about Israeli tech companies and wealthy Arabs wanting to do business with them.

  2. Saudi Arabia has been turning a blind eye in recent years and permitting overflights heading to/from Israel. Air India has been routing the DEL-TLV flights through both Omani and Saudi airspace for the last multiple years.

  3. The UAE selling out the Palestinians is nothing new. The UAE would sell out anyone for their own gain. At least they are making their ties to Israel official now.

  4. Was Isreal previously underserved from a aviation standpoint due to the lack of diplomatic relations between the countries? I guess I’m wondering how this is actually a significant benefit. Another example of this was between the US and Cuba. Airlines completely oversaturated that market when the travel block was lifted and had to pull back.

  5. Glad to see! Should really help out Emirates & Etihad going forward & provides many more options out of ME. Trump Administration getting it done, bravo!

  6. Israel and Saudi/UAE have been close behind the scenes for a while already. Saudi even set up corridors in their airspace that Israeli jets can use to bomb Iran. My enemy’s enemy…

  7. Lucky, I dont think Israel was underserved from Europe, there was probably 100 daily flights a day to Europe, if not more.

    Excited to fly from Tel Aviv to Dubai next time we go to Israel!!!

  8. @Andre – This seems like a much different situation from US/Cuba as there is, for all intents and purposes, only one airline in the UAE: Emirates. I doubt Emirates will “flood” the market and will instead likely fly a handful of flights there opening TLV to Emirates worldwide route network. If anything this will drive down prices from the legacy carriers from all parts of the world as there is another viable option to get to TLV from N/A, Western Europe, India, Asia, Oceania.

    tl:dr lower prices for consumers via more choice

  9. Ben, I don’t agree that this is a total negative for El Al.

    This agreement is a major blunt to global efforts to deligitimize Israel and will bolster inbound tourism to Israel globally (and will potentially be reinforced by future agreements with other Arab nations).

    If El Al can make it through COVID, they stand to benefit from the overall resulting increase in tourism and demand for nonstop flights, despite increased competition by Gulf carriers. Perhaps Turkish Air has more to lose in this regard, given the level of connecting traffic they carry(d)?

  10. Emirates probably already planning to send an A380 for that very special first flight lol. I think this is good for both sides. Israeli businesses will have the chance to expand their operations to the UAE, especially as Abu Dhabi and Dubai look to strengthen their strategic importance as an innovation hub for a post-oil future. Iran must be quaking in her heels right now lmao

  11. @Ray
    I can’t see why there is anything funny to this. I know you Americans think Iran is the great enemy that should be wiped off the map. But believe it or not – Iranians are very very friendly and educated people who do not want to kill you. Quite the contrary, they love Americans.
    It’s rather worrying to see this American led anti Iranian alliance forming along the axis Israel-Saudi-UAE.
    Definitely not thinking this will do anything good for peace in the Middle East in the long-run. Rather the opposite….

  12. Honestly the amount of direct tourism post-COVID of Muslims from UAE flying direct to Tel Aviv for purposes of visiting Al-Aqsa Mosque (3rd holiest site in Islam) in Jerusalem is probably enough alone for a business decision. Likewise the other direction connecting onto Jeddah to visit Mecca. A lot more convenient than flying via Europe to connect.

  13. “Direct”? Really Ben. You, of all people, shouldn’t get lazy and use direct when you mean non-stop.

    Please use the correct terminology

  14. Use of Saudi airspace is essential for TLV-UAE flights. Since Iraq and Iran are not an option, the only alternative is around the entire Arab peninsula, tripling the distance.

    If this works out though, Emirates can fill several A320s daily with passengers connecting east. Israelis already can and do fly Emirates, but with an extra connection in Amman, and having to stay airside, making it much less attractive

  15. El Al has healthy competition on all fronts and the thought that any traffic west of Israel via the UAE seems a bit of a stretch. Carriers impacted by this move including EL AL will be for travel to the Indian subcontinent, NZ, Australia, Se Asia and the Far East. Prior to COVID there were several Asian carriers as well as LY flying nonstop to TLV. LY was starting to focus on Australia flying as well. No doubt these carriers will also feel the impact of the UAE airlines when traffic returns to normal levels.
    Turkish has numerous daily flights to TLV which will be negatively impacted for Israel to Asia destinations.
    In the name of peace for the region, this is all for the better despite the hits numerous airlines will experience.
    It will be interesting to see if my favourite Gulf airline, Qatar will have the same opportunities.

  16. Assuming everything works out and connections via Emirates & Etihad’s hubs to their respective global destinations is introduced, among the challenges El Al will have to overcome to have any chance of survival are:

    – demanding an end to objections by some foreign governments for El Al to perform added security measures that as long as it cannot do, it cannot serve the destination, which reduces the breadth of El Al’s network while (oh so conveniently) allowing the foreign country’s airline[s] to benefit;

    – finding a way to overcome the 38 years old (as implemented but Prime Minister Menachem Begin in May, 1982 in a dramatic and historic 58-54 Knesset vote, and now intractable) ban to operate flights on Friday nights, Saturdays and Biblical holidays (Rosh Hashanah; Yom Kippur; 1st, 2nd, 7th & 8th days of Passover, etc.) that will be ferociously opposed by the country’s very conservative, very large, and very reliable voting blocs in the Orthodox and Hasidic communities who believe the Biblical prohibition against work on the Sabbath and religious holidays is inviolable, which puts Israel’s flag airline at tremendous disadvantage in terms of scheduling and costs versus its competitors when considering the weekly downtime from Friday afternoon until late Saturday night plus the ~13 days (which when including the required allowances of several hours before sundown to several hours after sundown becomes even more days per year when El Al cannot operate);

    – renationalization of the airline, along with the government backing (political AND financial) that will be needed to keep the Sabbath and Biblical holidays ban on operations in place;

    – losing its “flag airline” – which most countries, regardless of religious or political beliefs/economic systems beliefs, including the USA, is loathe to do for economic, political, military, and yes, good old fashioned national pride.

    So, while establishing diplomatic relations along with regularly scheduled flights between the UAE and Israel is a welcome breakthrough, it sure does make things EVEN MORE “interesting” in terms of the potential impacts on El Al’s long tenuous struggle to survive – at least as a privatized carrier.

    Of course, any permanent renationalization and government subsidization to preserve the Shabbat and Biblical holiday ban on operations would then run afoul of most “open skies” treaties.

    Oye, veh!

  17. @Ben

    As you mentioned in your article, this blog is primarily about aviation and not about the politics of the UAE-Israel agreement. To therefore mention that ‘peace is always a good thing’ between two nations which would never go to war together and will probably use this to form a pact against Iran, therefore directly opposing the ‘peace’ you refer to might be a tad misplaced and uninformed.

    Not to say that I disagree with your points, and I thoroughly enjoy your blog, but don’t put political statements into an article where you explicitedly state that you want to talk about the aviation aspect of the bilateral agreement.

  18. @Ben, Pilgrimage from Israel to Mecca goes via Jordan, not Europe, and this seems unlikely to change.
    Until we see Israeli-Saudi relations Israelis, including Muslims, can’t enter Saudi Arabia, so they’re issued temporary Jordanian travel documents.

    Muslim Pilgrimage to Jerusalem also may be difficult. Most Muslim religious institutions object to normalization with Israel, and will not cooperate. So we may single Muslims from UAE visiting Al-Aqsa, not masses.

  19. If they will list Israel as Middle East and not Europe it would be nice (tho much longer) to take EY or EK to TLV from North America on points.

  20. @Omar
    How dare you say Trump did anything good. We all must hate him because that’s what the media tells us to do.
    @Lars
    No one hates Iranian people, just like no one hates Russians or Chinese (well, some few eggplant heads do).
    It’s their governments that, in an attempt to distract their own people from their own severe corruption, finds an enemy conveniently located so far away, to blame for their own blood thirst. The people that suffer from this fake bravado are Iranians, Russians and Chinese, not Americans, migration patterns will make it very obvious. However the all evil USA has to be always ready, in case one of this holly governments tries to pull an Argentina and actually attack a remote outpost. It is their right and their duty to their people (that includes millions of Iranians, Russians and Chinese).

  21. As much as Trump is an idiot, Trump deserves credit for this. He arranged it. The deal was that Israel would not annex significant land in the West Bank in exchange for UAE recognition.

  22. @Uri –

    You are right, Emirates won’t fill up multiple A320s a day from TLV because they don’t have them. However, Etihad has A320s and A321s. Also for what its worth, it was Etihad that flew those 2 cargo flights last month directly to TLV and not Emirates. I anticipate that it will be Etihad who flies first and then Emirates.

    In terms of using Saudi airspace for these flights, I think they will receive permission from Saudi. Saudi Arabia already gave Air India the rights to fly directly over Saudi from India to TLV. No reason to believe they wouldn’t do the same for Etihad/Emirates from UAE, with whom they have a much closer diplomatic relationship (putting it lightly) than India.

  23. This is all about Trump’s reelection and Netanyahu’s distraction from scandal. You can bet that it will be touted as Trump making good on a campaign promise regardless of the disastrous effects of the stunt to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Forgotten by the corrupt sheikhs are the poor Palestinians who are in a cage undergoing regular pogroms and gradual genocide. A Guantanamo with kids inside. The sheikhs are on the wrong side of history and I predict this amity will not last too long. Insulated by bribed Americans, BDS is the only stick that Zionists understand.

  24. Prior to the fall of the Shah in 1979, Iran was a western ally and had friendly relations with Israel. Amongst other things, Israel helped develop the IAAF (Imperial Iranian Air Force). There were also flights between Tehran and Tel Aviv. At the time, this was the only country in the Middle East to maintain relations with Israel.

    Iran represents one of the oldest civilisations in the world. It’s a country of great beauty, plenty of things to see & do, amazing food and an interesting history. Had it not been for the revolution, Iran would today be the powerhouse in the Gulf and a huge tourist destination. Unfortunately, a bunch of religious madmen threw a spanner in the works.

  25. It doesn’t matter what content gets posted, it takes fewer than ten comments for someone to mention Trump. Jezzzz

  26. Jason – How does this remotely change the international “legitimacy” of Israel? Virtually no major countries or organisations question their legitimacy, and of those that do, I cannot believe that a random Middle Eastern dictator deciding to start formal cooperation will hold any sway over them.

    Unless you’re from the Middle East, if you want a holiday in Israel you could already take a holiday in Israel with ease. This could make it a bit cheaper/easier to get there, but I don’t see how it could possibly expand the sector so enormously that it offsets the drop in fare revenue to El Al, let alone benefits them.

  27. @Indopithecus
    israel will continue to welcome tourists, including Arab, Moslem or Jew.

    It is worthless to argue and defend against lies.
    I will just point out that;
    Nobody is in a cage. Great visual impact but not true.
    Poor Palestinians have had their economic, educational and health outcomes greatly improved since 1967. Honestly, nobody cared about them before 67.
    There are no pogroms unless you count Hebron, 1929, Jews murdered in their sleep by Arabs, long before the state of Israel.
    Israel, like any sovereign state has the right and responsibility to protect its population against attack. Those attacking will be in danger. Sadly, those sheltering and assisting attackers put themselves at risk.
    You don’t have to like Israel, just get true facts and then attack honestly.

  28. This will be an especially excellent development for Israeli travellers. Being able to fly to India and Asia through Dubai and Abu Dhabi will save them a lot of time over flying through Europe or Africa, and money over flying the very expensive El Al, CX, KE, TG and SQ flights (if and when they all resume). Easy to see not only business travelers on Etihad and Emirates but also all the budget carriers connecting to India.

    A bit out of the way, but opens up redemption opportunities for North Americans trying to get to Israel, adding to the RJ option.

  29. @Don
    “Moslem,” is a deliberate misspelling indicating the individual using it is likely ignorant poor white trash, just FYI.

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