Etihad to start flying to Tel Aviv next spring onward1 min read . Updated: 17 Nov 2020, 08:29 AM IST
- Direct flights between Abu Dhabi and Tel Aviv will begin on 28 March
Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, announced on Monday it would start operating daily nonstop flights to Tel Aviv next spring, a move that deepens ties between the UAE and Israel after the two countries agreed to normalize relations.
Direct flights on Etihad between the emirates’ capital of Abu Dhabi and Tel Aviv will begin on 28 March, giving “Emiratis and UAE residents the opportunity to discover Israel’s historical sites, beaches, restaurants and nightlife," the state-owned carrier said in a statement. Tickets are already available on Etihad’s website.
The announcement comes after Dubai’s budget carrier flydubai said it would begin offering direct flights between Dubai and Tel Aviv later this month.
The UAE and Israel signed a US-brokered accord establishing formal diplomatic ties on the White House lawn in September. The deal marked a diplomatic achievement for President Donald Trump ahead of his re-election campaign and reflects a changing Middle East, in which shared enmity of Iran has largely overtaken traditional Arab support for the Palestinians. Soon after the UAE, Bahrain and Sudan agreed to formalize ties with Israel in similar agreements.
The deal, rejected by Palestinians as a betrayal of their cause, has been welcomed among Israelis eager to visit the UAE’s skyscraper-studded cities and make public their long-secret commercial ties with the federation of seven sheikhdoms.
In recent weeks, a series of Israeli delegations, including entrepreneurs, tourists and even Israeli settlers from the occupied West Bank, has flown to Dubai for meetings with Emirati businesspeople and officials.
The air route became commercially viable after Saudi Arabia decided to allow Israeli jets to traverse its skies, cutting the flight time between the countries to some three hours.