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Philippine Airlines’ new A350 (Photo: Philippine Airlines)

Philippine Airlines to Launch Non-Stop Flights Between Manila and Tel Aviv

Proving resiliency in the time of a global pandemic, Philippine Airlines is looking to launch non-stop flights between Manila and Tel Aviv, Israel by October 2021, betting on eased air travel restrictions as Covid-19 vaccinations in both the Philippines and Israel having made good progress.

The national carrier of Philippines has been seeking to revive this old route, which it operated from the 1940s until the 1950s, for tourism purposes and hopes to provide a service to the approximate twenty-eight thousand Filipinos based in Israel.

“The Philippine flag carrier hopes to serve growing demand for air linkages between the Philippines and the Holy Land to serve tourists and OFWs [overseas Filipino workers] alike,” Philippine Airlines said in a statement on Friday, April 30.

“Our countrymen have been longing for a direct flight to the Holy Land for spiritual pilgrimages or for a Mediterranean getaway when the travel climate allows,” said the statement, quoting Dexter Lee, Philippine Airlines’ chief strategist and planning officer.

“We also look forward to inviting Israelis to visit the Philippines, so our direct flights will help us restart tourism here in our country,” Lee continued in the statement.

Exchanging Tourism

Recent “exploratory” discussions were led by Philippine Airlines president Gilbert Santa Maria and Israel Ministry of Tourism Director General Amir Halevi, according to the statement.

Among the countries that have successfully controlled the COVID-19 pandemic through widespread vaccination, Israel has managed to ensure that around 57% of its population has been inoculated against Covid-19.

With that, Israel is now gradually reopening to international visitors, starting with vaccinated tour groups from May 23, and ultimately to individual tourist travelers by as early as July 2021.

Halevi said, “I am pleased to give this important first step to the tourism industry between Israel and the Philippines. Direct flights between our two capitals will be a game-changer for tourism and business connectivity. This time Israel has unique advantage as a safe and healthy country. We hope to welcome you soon in Israel!”

Whether it be a holiday or a spiritual pilgrimage for Filipino people, the Manila-Tel Aviv flights will welcome tourism in all forms.

PAL said the planned Manila-Tel Aviv flights would operate twice per week using its Airbus A350-900s. The airline hopes to mount two weekly flights during the launch.

Philippine passport holders will be entitled to a 90-day visa-free stay in Israel, per Tourist Israel.

Once the global travel climate improves and restrictions are eased, the planned service will enable Israeli tourists to fly nonstop to Manila and connect to the Phillippines flag carrier’s domestic route network, encouraging more tourism in both directions.

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