Emirates announced on Thursday that it will launch a new daily service between Dubai and Tel Aviv beginning December 6, 2021. The new service comes just over a year after direct commercial flights were permitted between Israel and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) following the normalization of diplomatic relations through the Arabian Accords.
The road to Emirates launching flights to Israel began in May 2020 when Etihad Airways flew a historic flight from Abu Dhabi to Tel Aviv to deliver medical supplies and other aid to Palestinian authorities in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
The Palestinians initially refused to accept the aid claiming the mission was part of a wider diplomatic push between the UAE and Israel. Several months later, the two countries announced they were working to establish diplomatic relations for the first time ever. The deal was formalised at the White House in Washington D.C. in August 2020.
Soon after, Saudia Arabia eased restrictions that prevented most flights from passing through its airspace to get to or from Israel. The decision finally made it possible for direct flights to operate between Israel and the UAE.
While Etihad Airways led the way by launching flights to Tel Aviv almost immediately, Emirates initially held off while the slack of taken up by fellow government-owned airline flydubai.
The Emirates Group did, however, set up a Kosher catering facility at its hub at Dubai International Airport which will provide food not only to the airline industry but across the hospitality sector across Dubai.
Emirates was always expected to launch flights to Tel Aviv but its entry into the market was delayed by renewed pandemic restrictions by the Israeli authorities. Those restrictions have been lifted in the last few days for travellers who are fully vaccinated and have received a booster shot.
Announcing the route launch, Emirates’ chief commercial officer Adnan Kazim commented: “We would like to thank the UAE and Israeli authorities for their support, and we await the opportunity to serve Israel and open up more prospects for both countries to continue to build a strong relationship while growing business and expanding tourism in the near future.”
The route will be operated by a Boeing 777-300 in a three-class configuration with First Class, Business and Economy.
Visa-free travel has been established between the two countries after some initial teething problems and Dubai’s tourist board expects Israeli visitors to come flooding into the country. Dubai was one of the hottest destinations for Israeli tourists last year, although Israel’s former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu feared his fellow countrymen might “misbehave” and get in trouble in Dubai.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.