Israel’s “open skies” policy is designed to encourage as many foreign carriers as possible to fly to and from Israel, and the next airline to join that list could be Thai Airways. Israel and Thailand recently signed an agreement to allow airlines other than El Al – which until now held a monopoly on the route – to fly to and from Israel.
Thailand has become an important business and vacation destination for Israelis, with 165,000 passengers flying to and from there each year in recent years. El Al has been the only scheduled airline to fly that route; other Israeli carriers, like Arkia, have flown in the context of charters. Now, said Nir Dagan, chairman of Arkia, the airline will bid on flying the route as well.
The agreement allows for more Thai companies to fly to Israel, and the only international carrier from that country that could do so is Thai Airways. The company has reportedly not decided whether or not to go ahead with a Tel Aviv route.
A coach seat on a regularly scheduled El Al flight to Bangkok costs $980, while a seat on an indirect flight with at least one stopover cost as little as $604 (Aeroflot, via Moscow).