‘Open Skies’ – Increased Flights to and From Israel, Officials Say

The departure screen in the departure terminal at Ben Gurion International Airport. (Flash90)

This week marks five years since the signing of Israel’s “Open Skies” agreements with European aviation officials – and with that anniversary comes the removal of all restrictions on flights between Israel and Europe. Carriers, both Israeli and foreign, are now allowed to schedule as many flights as they like to and from destinations in Europe.

Even with the remaining restrictions that were in effect until now, the last five years saw a 51-percent increase in the number of weekly flights to and from Europe. This summer, Israeli aviation officials said that there would be 975 flights leaving Israel for destinations in the European Union, compared to 644 in 2014.

Of those, 15 percent, or 147, will be operated by the top three low-cost carriers – WizzAir, Easyjet and RyanAir. Thirty-one percent will be operated by Israeli carriers El Al, Arkia and IsrAir, down from 36 percent in the summer of 2014. It should be noted that these flights to Europe include passengers who will be transferring to flights in Europe for further destinations, in North America, Asia and Australia.

Officials said that there has also been a side benefit of the policy – an increase in flights to other destinations as well, with new routes to and from Asia and the Americas offered by Israeli and foreign carriers.

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