The government’s “Open Skies” policy, in which Israel has arranged for dozens of carriers – many of them low-cost – to open routes to and from Israel, has had a major impact on lowering the cost of international travel for Israelis, according to the Tourism Ministry. But it has also had a major impact on Israel’s national carrier El Al – which in May lost ground to other airlines.
According to a new report by the Airports Authority, El Al in May carried 491,473 passengers to and from Israel. That was 2.23 percent more than the number that traveled with El Al in May 2017 – but the increase was far behind the average growth of 14 percent for all other carriers. The slowdown in the number of passengers traveling with El Al is part of an ongoing trend; previous Authority reports showed that between January and May this year, El Al moved 2,141,789 passengers – 1.88 percent more than the same period in 2017, but far below the 16 percent increase in travel by passengers on all carriers at Ben Gurion during that period.
The biggest “loss” for El Al in May was on its lines to Turkey, which had 10.17 percent fewer passengers this year than in May 2017. The losses could be attributed to the new tension between Israel and Turkey, and the fact that most of Ramadan came out during May this year; many of El Al’s Turkey-bound passengers are Muslims, and they tend to fly less during Ramadan, Globes said. With that, travel to Turkey on El Al was 13.48 percent higher for the first five months of the year than during the same period in 2017, the Authority figures showed.