New “open sky” policies that are encouraging foreign carriers to add Israel to their itineraries are paying off. July showed a 13 percent increase in the number of Israelis traveling abroad over the same month a year ago, indicating that air travel is now more plentiful and cheaper than in the past. A total of 2,180,738 passengers passed through Ben Gurion Airport in July 2017 — a record monthly total — and 13.2 percent more than in July 2016. Between January 1 and June 30, 2017, a total of 17 percent more Israelis traveled than during the same period in 2016.
With the “heavy” travel season set to begin in the coming days, after the period of the Three Weeks, Airport Authority officials are preparing for a greater-than-ever crush at Ben Gurion Airport, with as many as 90,000 travelers passing through on the busiest days. A total of 4.5 million passengers are expected to pass through the airport on their way in or out of Israel during July and August. The load is being partially carried by the newly refurbished Terminal One, which now has some 270 flights, mostly of low-cost carriers, leaving on a weekly basis.
The most popular destinations in July were Paris; Anatalya, Turkey; and Larnaca, Cyprus. Additionally, many Israelis made connecting flights in Istanbul and Moscow, with both Turkish Air and Aeroflot popular for their lower-cost, long-distance flights to the U.S. and the Far East.
Commenting on the July numbers, Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz said that “the opening of international travel is having a tremendous impact on the economy. We will continue to open Israel’s airports to carriers and thus encourage even lower prices, as part of the consumer revolution that the Israeli public has begun benefiting from.”