The ink is barely dry on the new peace deal between Israel and the UAE and Etihad Airways is already stepping in to offer flights out of Tel Aviv. The Abu Dahbi based airline will be represented in Israel by Tal Aviation. This cannot be good news for El Al.
Just a few hours flight from Tel Aviv, the airline will offer travelers continuing flights to all over the far East. Etihad offers flights to Thailand, The Maldives, Australia, India, The Philippines, Japan and other countries.
TAL Aviation Vice President Nissim Sagis stated, “In recent weeks we have seen a rise in demand in Israel and a return of the desire to travel. We are excited about cooperating with our new partners, Etihad, and to offer Israeli travelers Etihad’s renowned service experience to Abu Dhabi and other destinations on its international flight network.”
Much has been made in Israel in recent years of the new “open skies” policies. This has allowed for much greater competition – and so lower prices – for Israelis looking to travel abroad. Turkish Air and Royal Jordanian have already offered lower priced services to cities all over the world. You just need to fly first from Tel Aviv to either Amman or Istanbul and then catch a connecting flight.
A great many discount or charter airlines also now fly through Tel Aviv. This, of course, hurt Israel’s national carrier El Al’s bottom line going back before the Corona Virus shutdown. But El Al was closed down all summer and multiple reports stated that it was facing closure. More competition is not what it needed right now.
Globes cited a senior airline industry source as saying, “The entry of airlines from the UAE into Israel represents a great danger to Israeli aviation, and particularly to El Al. Even before the crisis and before the change that will arise from the signing of the agreement with the UAE, the Israeli airlines lost money when the Open Skies policy came into full effect.”
“Unlike the case of the Israeli airlines, the governments of the Gulf states and the Emirates pour money into various industries, aviation among them. They set up amazing companies and built new airports, with the low price of fuel available to them serving them well. The aim they set for themselves was to conquer the world and grow their market share in aviation in other countries as well. The hubs they have at their airports link every continent. It’s an excellent location for flights to Australia, to the Far East, and to Africa, which means that El Al, and airlines like Turkish Airlines which fly to these destinations, should be worried, not just about the excellent product of the airlines from the UAE, but also about the fares they offer.
“El Al still doesn’t know whether it will obtain a permanent permit to fly over Saudi Arabia, as opposed to the one-time permit for the flight to Abu Dhabi, but even if it does, I have no doubt that Etihad and Emirates are capable of taking over the Israeli market for flights to the Far East.”