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First Etihad Airways' passenger flight to Israel lands in Tel Aviv

Tel Aviv: The first commercial flight by Etihad Airways from Abu Dhabi to Tel Aviv has landed. Israel was added to Abu Dhabi’s ‘green list’ on Monday, giving quarantine-free travel for visitors arriving in Abu Dhabi.

The launch of scheduled operations comes as the next "historic step" in developing diplomatic, trade and tourism ties between Israel and the UAE, which were inked as part of the Abraham Accords in September last.

The Etihad Airways EY598 took off this morning (Tuesday) at 10:05 UAE time. On board the flight was a diplomatic and economic delegation representing the UAE, including Mohamed Al-Khaja, UAE’s first Ambassador to Israel, Eitan Nae’eh, Israel’s Head of Mission to the UAE, and Tony Douglas, Etihad’s Group CEO.

The flight landed at Ben Gurion Airport at 12:30 (Israel time) and was received with a water cannon salute. "Today is a hugely significant moment in Etihad’s history, as we operate our first scheduled commercial flight into Tel Aviv," said Tony Douglas, Group CEO, Etihad Aviation Group.

"Last year, we witnessed the UAE and Israel make history when signing the Abraham Accords, and we are tremendously excited about the opportunities this poses to Etihad and our home Abu Dhabi."

Significant demand

Etihad said there was significant travel demand anticipated between "Israel and the UAE and beyond, for both business and leisure travel purposes." This is bolstered by the fact that Israel and the UAE boast two of the highest vaccination rates in the world, giving potential for a 'vaccine corridor' to further ease travel between the two destinations, the airline added.

Codeshare deal

Etihad and the national carrier of Israel, El Al, are continuing preparations for wide-ranging cooperation on the route and other routes, said the Abu Dhabi-based airline. The airlines signed a MoU in November last covering codeshare on each other’s operations, a frequent flyer tie-up and cooperation in cargo, training and maintenance services.