Israel, China Sign Air Agreement

YERUSHALAYIM -

Economic ties between China and Israel took a significant step forward as an agreement was announced for as many as 14 weekly commercial flights between Israel and China, as well as seven weekly cargo flights, Haaretz reported.

There are currently some 50,000 passengers every year on the Tel Aviv-Beijing route, with another 30,000 getting there via other cities, says the director general of the Civil Aviation Authority, Giora Romm.

However, China’s national carrier Air China does not fly to Israel. During a meeting Sunday, the Chinese explained there were no flights to Israel because China’s aviation industry was growing faster than its ability to find and train new staff. The Chinese fleet grows at the rate of around 350 planes every year.

The new agreement expands the potential for code-sharing arrangements between Israeli and Chinese airlines, including access to seven destinations in China through domestic Chinese flights. Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz said the agreement also increased Israel’s potential as a tourist destination for the massive Chinese market.

“I believe that this agreement is likely to bring to Israel hundreds of thousands and even millions of Chinese,” he said.

In 2012, nearly 19,800 Chinese tourists visited Israel, a 13% increase from 2011 and 49% from 2010.

In another China-related development, it was announced that Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s chief economic adviser will fly to China on Wednesday to do his part in promoting bilateral trade and joint R&D projects.

Prof. Eugene Kandel, the head of the National Economic Council, will meet with Zhang Xiaoqiang, the vice director of China’s National Development and Reform Commission and other officials.

In addition to his responsibilities as economic adviser, Kandel heads an interministerial committee to promote business with the Chinese.