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Etihad, El Al Sign MOU As UAE Airline Announces Service to Tel Aviv

An Etihad A330-200 in the carrier’s newest paint scheme in Dusseldorf. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Fabian Behr)

The United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) Etihad Airways have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with El Al Israel Airlines. The MOU follows the signing in September in Washington D.C. of a historic ‘normalization of relations’ agreement between the two states.

Announcing the virtual signing of the MOU Tony Douglas, Group Chief Executive Officer of Etihad Aviation Group, said in a press statement: “Following EL AL’s historic flight to Abu Dhabi, the first-ever flight between Israel and the UAE, this MOU is the foundation of what we envision will be a strong ongoing relationship between Abu Dhabi and Tel Aviv. We look forward to examining ways in which the two flag carriers – Etihad and EL AL – can work more closely together to improve business operations and enhance the experience for our guests.”

The MOU scope includes provision for joint codeshare services; plans to offer reciprocal ‘earn and burn’ on frequent flyer programs; and cooperation in the fields of Engineering and Cargo services in Abu Dhabi and Tel Aviv.

Gonen Usishkin Chief Executive Officer of EL AL added: “Following the normalization of diplomatic relations between Israel and the UAE, we have been provided a great opportunity to examine the possibility of cooperation with Etihad Airways. This MOU is only the start and we believe that together, the two flag carriers will be able to provide our mutual customers with the best possible product and service.”

The signing of the MOU follows an announcement earlier this week that Etihad will begin regularly scheduled flights to Tel Aviv from 28 March 2021. Etihad became the first Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) carrier to operate a commercial passenger flight to and from Tel Aviv on 19 October.

Fellow GCC member Bahrain also signed the normalization of relations agreement with Israel in September. Flight Global reported this week that Gulf Air operated a special service from Manama to Tel Aviv on Wednesday but has no plans at present to commence a regular service between the countries.

However, the state-owned carrier flydubai will be the first UAE airline will be the first to operate regular commercial services with the commencement of flights from November 26. flydubai will operate a twice-daily service to Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport (TLV) with Emirates code-sharing on the flights. The 14 weekly flights constitute half of the agreed commercial passenger services allowed under the bilateral agreement signed last month between the two countries.

El Al has not yet announced plans to operate services to the UAE as it continues to gradually increase its network as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic. In the coming weeks, the Israeli airline will restart services to Moscow, Newark, Berlin and Brussels.

John Flett


  • John Flett

    John has always had a passion for aviation and through a career with Air New Zealand has gained a strong understanding of aviation operations and the strategic nature of the industry. During his career with the airline, John held multiple leadership roles and was involved in projects such as the introduction of both the 777-200 and -300 type aircraft and the development of the IFE for the 777-300. He was also part of a small team who created and published the internal communications magazines for Air New Zealand’s pilots, cabin crew and ground staff balancing a mix of corporate and social content. John is educated to postgraduate level achieving a masters degree with Distinction in Airline and Airport Management. John has held the positions of course director of an undergraduate commercial pilot training programme at a leading London university. In addition he is contracted as an external instructor for IATA (International Air Transport Association) and has been a member of the Heathrow Community Fund’s ‘Communities for Tomorrow’ panel.

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