Flydubai launches first scheduled Dubai-Tel Aviv flight

Budget airline flydubai launches direct flights to Tel Aviv, the first scheduled commercial service between the two cities.

Tags: Dubai
AFP and Arutz Sheva Staff , | updated: 12:20 PM

Airplane plane landing
Airplane plane landing

Budget airline flydubai on Thursday launched direct flights to Tel Aviv, the first scheduled commercial service between the two cities, following the normalization of ties between the UAE and Israel.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was on hand for the arrival of the inaugural flight after its nearly four-hour trip and delivered remarks.

He called the flight "a pivotal movement."

"We’re flying into a new era which is changing the Middle East," he said, adding this was "history in the making."

The United Arab Emirates in September signed a landmark US-brokered deal to formalize relations with Israel, the first such agreement by an Arab state in the Gulf.

"The start of scheduled flights will contribute to economic development and create further opportunities for investment," flydubai CEO Ghaith al-Ghaith said when the service was announced earlier this month.

The Dubai carrier will fly the route twice daily, and Israeli airlines El Al and Israir are both expected to launch their commercial services between the cities next month.

Etihad Airways, based in the UAE capital Abu Dhabi, has said it will begin flying to Tel Aviv in March 2021.

The UAE became only the third Arab country to normalize ties with Israel, following Egypt in 1979 and Jordan in 1994.

The two countries have already signed treaties on visa-free travel -- although that is yet to come into force - along with accords on investment protection, science and technology.

Since the historic agreement, Bahrain and Sudan have followed suit and agreed to forge ties.

Several Gulf Arab states have for years been quietly building relations with Israel on the basis of shared animosity towards Iran, with the US supporting the process.

Regional heavyweight Saudi Arabia has so far refrained from formalizing ties with Israel but has given the green light to overflights from the Jewish state, in an implicit sign of approval.

After the UAE deal was announced by President Donald Trump in August, El Al flew a delegation of US and Israeli officials - led by Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner - to Abu Dhabi in an historic direct service between the two countries.

That was followed by an official visit by a UAE delegation to Tel Aviv as well as a string of charter flights carrying business groups.