Palestinians to Be Allowed to Fly to Turkey Through Israeli Airport

Planes are reflected in the façade of the Ramon International Airport, just outside Eilat. (REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun/File Photo)

(Reuters) – Palestinians from Yehudah and Shomron will be able to fly on special flights from Ramon airport, near Eilat, to destinations in Turkey, Israel’s Airports Authority said on Tuesday.

The move is the latest step in Israel offering economic easements to Palestinians in the absence of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks and follows pressure from the United States. President Joe Biden visited Israel last month.

Without an airport of their own, Palestinians, who cannot fly from the Ben Gurion Airport without special permission, typically travel to Jordan to catch international flights. These flights will not be offered to Palestinians from Gaza.

Under the pilot program the flights will run twice a week starting at the end of August to Istanbul and Antalya on Turkish carriers Atlas and Pegasus and using Airbus A321 aircraft, the airport authority said.

Ramon airport, which opened in 2019, is designed to take any planes rerouted from Ben Gurion airport, near Tel Aviv.

Foreign carriers such as Ryanair, Wizzair and Lufthansa began to fly nonstop to older Eilat airports in 2015 during winter months after Israel offered airlines 60 euros ($61) per passenger brought on direct flights from abroad.

But the COVID-19 pandemic largely halted those flights.

The Airports Authority said that for the first time, summer flights to various destinations in Europe from Eilat would start in the coming days. They include Batumi, Georgia and Larnaca, Cyprus, on Israeli carrier Arkia, and Warsaw and Katowice on Poland’s Enter Air.

Pegasus in October will fly Israelis to Turkey with four flights a week, the authority said.

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