Israeli carriers may soon fly to Turkey under new air deal

JERUSALEM, July 7 (Reuters) – Israel and Turkey on Thursday signed a new bilateral civil aviation agreement, the first since 1951, as part of recent warming diplomatic ties, allowing Israeli carriers to resume flights to the Turkey after 15 years of absence. .

“The agreement is expected to result in the resumption of Israeli airline flights to various destinations in Turkey, alongside Turkish airline flights to Israel,” Israel’s Transport Ministry said in a statement.

He said the deal was the result of “constructive negotiations over the past few weeks and was an important step in advancing the bilateral relationship.”

Join now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.com

Register

Earlier this week, Israel announced it would reopen its economic and trade office in Turkey after the two governments expelled ambassadors in 2018, while often trading barbs over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Israel and Turkey are now seeking to restore representation at the ambassadorial level.

Israeli carriers have not operated commercial flights to Turkey since 2007, while Turkish carriers operated up to 16 flights per day to Israel before COVID.

Flag carrier El Al Israel Airlines (ELAL.TA) had long complained to government officials that this discriminated against Israeli airlines.

“This is very good news,” an El Al spokesman said. “We intend to operate commercial flights to Istanbul.”

He added that the El Al Sun D’or unit will likely fly to leisure destinations popular with Israelis such as Antalya.

Israeli airline Arkia, which once flew to Turkish destinations such as Antalya, Istanbul and Dalaman, also welcomed the effort.

“We are preparing with all our efforts to once again be a leading Israeli player in the Turkish tourism market,” a company official told Reuters.

Budget airlines such as Turkish Airways have reduced El Al’s operations, with most passengers using Istanbul as a hub to connect to North America and Europe.

Turkish Airways is the third-largest airline operating in Israel, with a 7% market share at Ben Gurion Airport near Tel Aviv in the first half of 2022, according to the Israel Airports Authority. El Al’s share slipped to 22% from 29% a year ago.

The Turkish Pegasus is 6th with 4% market share.

A spokesman for the small Israeli carrier Israir said there was no news yet on flights to Turkey. Rival Arkia did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Join now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.com

Register

Writing by Dan Williams and Steven Scheer, editing by David Evans, Alexandra Hudson

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

About Ariella McGuire

Check Also

Turkey is doing all it can to end the conflict in Ukraine: Erdogan

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told the Turkish summit that it has become “much more …