New flight routes added to Tel Aviv during the past few years have added countless new options from European cities at unheard of prices to Ben Gurion Airport in turn propelling low-cost airlines such as easyJet and Wizz Air into some of the largest operators in Israel, taking advantage of the Open Skies Agreement signed between Israel and the EU.
The trend continued in 2015 with new direct flights to Tel Aviv from Boston with El Al, and more airlines competing on price in existing markets such as London with Monarch, and Amsterdam with easyJet. Early 2016 sees the start of the first direct flights from San Francisco to Tel Aviv thanks to United Airlines, and more offerings from Beijing with Hainan Airlines, Munich with TUIfly, Manchester with Monarch, and a handful of others.
Whilst the growth in options for flying to Tel Aviv is undeniably great both for tourists wanting to visit Israel and Israelis wanting to head abroad, there are a bunch of other cities who are screaming for a direct flight connection to Israel.
1. Miami, Florida
Miami has one of the largest Jewish communities in the USA, an ex-pat Israeli community said to be around 15,000 in numbers, and a location which makes it an obvious connection point en route to Central and South America.
Tel Aviv actually is Miami’s largest international flight destination lacking a direct flight! Every week, thousands of Florida locals fly to Israel for vacations and business, connecting through other US cities or European hubs. A direct route is sure to be a success, with thousands most Snowbirds likely to be candidates for taking package tours in Israel being put off by the awkwardness of connecting flights. The accessibility of Miami as an easy and well connected gateway to Central America, super popular with Israeli vacationers, and South America, with large Jewish communities, just adds to the argument.
El Al did once have direct flights to Miami, but cancelled these a few years back. Perhaps the time has come for El Al to reevaluate this decision or another American airline to pick up the opportunity.
2. Lisbon, Portugal
Lisbon, the capital of Portugal is one of Europe’s top touristic cities, with low-cost connections to pretty well everywhere conceivable in Europe, apart from Tel Aviv. Actually that isn’t strictly true, as Israeli charter airlines such as Arkia, Israir, and Sun D’Or fly a summer schedule to Lisbon each year.
This year there are expected to be up to 6 flights a week from Lisbon to Tel Aviv but it’s difficult for independent tourists to book onto these and awareness of these routes among incoming tourists is close to zero. The question is, why not make that a scheduled service and provide another great low-cost European destination for Israeli tourists and an easy connection to Israel for the Portuguese market?
3. Tokyo, Japan
Japan and Israel share so much. Business links between the two countries are growing at an increasingly rapid pace, with more and more Japanese investment in Israeli hi-tech, and growing numbers of Israeli firms entering the Japanese market. Meanwhile, Israeli tourism to Japan is growing at an unprecedented pace, as one of the nations favorite destinations, and Japanese tourism to Israel is likewise continuing to grow.
Late last year, it emerged that Japanese airline ANA were set to start direct flights to Tel Aviv. These emerged to be nothing more than rumors and the airline announced a few weeks ago that they would improve fares for Israeli passengers connecting through Europe but not launch a direct connection. In 2016, where flows between the cities are set to continue to grow at a similar pace, it makes sense that two of the most hi-tech countries in the world deserve a direct flight.
4. Dublin, Ireland
Dublin and Tel Aviv are connected in so many ways that might not be obvious. Many US tech companies such as Google, Facebook, and Dell have their European head offices in Ireland and heavy R&D interests in Israel, meaning that there are constant flows of business-people back and forth between the two countries every week. San Francisco, with similar business connections to Israel gets its direct flight in April, thanks in part to a campaign by the business community in both cities.
Ireland’s devout Catholic population are top candidates for touring the Holy Land, and currently connect, usually through London, on their way to Tel Aviv. Plus, the mild summer climate of Ireland, makes Ireland an obvious destination for Israeli families looking for summers away from the heat which, if served by low-cost flights would surely be snapped up quickly.
If that’s not enough, Ireland’s king of low-cost, Ryanair, recently began flying to Israel, albeit to Ovda Airport near Eilat, from three Eastern European cities. Let’s hope that the precedent has been set and Ryanair sees the opportunity to start direct flights from their home base to Israel. It’s unlikely that Ryanair will fly to Tel Aviv, but even a flight to Ovda or the new Ramon Airport, opening next year, would surely be welcomed without complaints.
So many comparisons are drawn between Israel and Singapore – two tiny nations who have rapidly developed in the past decades, financially stable, and technologically advanced. Relations between the two countries are great, and Israel is an increasingly popular destination for Singaporeans looking to travel further afield.
Singapore is also the perfect connecting hub for traveling further in Asia, an even more so, Australia. Singapore’s flag carrier, Singapore Airlines is one of the world’s most highly regarded airlines and a popular choice for Australians traveling to Europe. A well timed flight from Singapore to Tel Aviv, coordinated to Singapore Airlines’ routes from Sydney and Melbourne, could act like an almost direct connection from Australia with its vibrant Jewish communities and indisputable awe as a travel destination among Israelis. In fact, there have been calls for this route on Facebook, a small noise, but perhaps a wave will soon follow.