El Al to Boost NY Flights After Israel Joins U.S. Visa Waiver Program

An El Al airplane at Ben Gurion International Airport. (Moshe Shai/FLASH90)

YERUSHALAYIM (Reuters) – El Al Airlines said on Thursday it would add flights to New York in 2024 after the United States agreed to admit Israel into a program that will allow visa-free entry by Israeli citizens.

Starting next June, Israel’s flag carrier will add a daily flight to New York’s JFK Airport that will bring daily flights to JFK and Newark airports to as many as six per day and 33 per week.

On Wednesday, the U.S. government said Israel would be admitted to the U.S. Visa Waiver Program (VWP) as of Nov. 30.

“This is a breakthrough, and we are preparing to expand the flight frequencies based on the expected increase in demand,” CEO Dina Ben-Tal Ganancia said, adding that New York had long been the top destination for Israelis.

El Al said a survey it commissioned of Israeli adults who plan to travel abroad found that just 30% of them hold visas to enter the United States, while 40% of those considering flying to the U.S. said the need for a visa was one of the main barriers to flying there.

If Israelis may enter without a visa, the willingness to fly to the U.S. would rise by 20%, according to the poll. It also showed that 65% of respondents said New York was the most sought-after U.S. destination, followed by Los Angeles at 13%.

In all, El Al as of next June will operate 49 weekly flights to the United States including non-stops from Tel Aviv to Los Angeles, Miami and Boston. It will also add a route to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, in April.

El Al also recently forged a strategic cooperation with Delta to broaden connection options in the U.S. It said that the collaboration would allow El Al to increase the supply of seats to U.S. destinations while expanding its route network.

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