The United Arab Emirates on Tuesday started regular flights from capital Abu Dhabi to Israel’s city Tel Aviv, a day after the UAE added Israel to its “green list’.
A ‘green list’ signifies quarantine-free travel for visitors arriving in Abu Dhabi, despite the prevailing Covid-19 challenges.
Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways first scheduled flight to Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv took off on Tuesday morning, carrying Mohamed Al-Khaja, UAE’s first Ambassador to Israel, Eitan Nae’eh, Israel’s Head of Mission to the UAE, and Tony Douglas, Group Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Etihad Airways.
The flight landed at Ben Gurion Airport in the afternoon and was received with the traditional water cannon salute and a welcome speech by Shmuel Zakay, CEO, Ben Gurion International Airport.
The launch of flight operations comes as the next historic step in developing diplomatic, trade and tourism ties between Israel and the UAE, under the Abraham Accords signed in Washington DC on September 15, 2020.
“Today is a hugely significant moment in Etihad’s history, as we operate our first scheduled commercial flight into Tel Aviv… On our inaugural flight today, we were delighted to welcome representatives from some of the UAE’s finest tourism and hospitality operators. These business leaders will not only showcase Abu Dhabi as a world-leading tourism destination, but also reinforce the emirate’s robust and united response towards wellness,” said Douglas.
Etihad will initially offer two weekly flights between Abu Dhabi and Tel Aviv.
There is 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, a statement from the carrier said.