DOHA – Abu Dhabi-based flag-carrier Etihad Airways (EY) announced that its first scheduled commercial flight to Tel Aviv, Israel, has landed in Ben Gurion International Airport (TLV) Tuesday afternoon at local time.

“Today is a hugely significant moment in Etihad’s history, as we operate our first scheduled commercial flight into Tel Aviv,” said Etihad Group CEO Tony Douglas. 

“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,” he added. 

Etihad A6-BMI Boeing 787-10 Dreamliner (Eco Demonstrator). Michael Rodeback/Airways

A Long Awaited Flight

The flight, EY598, departed Abu Dhabi International Airport (AUH) at 10:05 AM (2:05 AM Eastern Time) and landed in TLV at 12:30 AM Israeli time (5:30 AM Eastern Time), where it was welcome by a water-cannon salute and a welcome reception that followed. 

Onboard were Mohamed Al-Khaja, UAE’s first Ambassador to Israel, Eitan Nae’eh, Israel’s Head of Mission to the UAE, and Douglas. 

The trip inaugurates EY’s long-awaited semiweekly flights between Abu Dhabi and Tel Aviv following the 2020 signing of the Abraham Accords Normalization Agreement between the United Arab Emirates and Israel.

The flight was initially scheduled for March 28, 2021, but was postponed to April 6, Gulf News reported.

Etihad A6-ETH Boeing 777-300(ER). Johann Heske/Airways

Travel Demand, Flights Twice A Week

Starting Tuesday, Etihad will fly twice a week between AUH and TLV every Wednesday and Sunday, operating one of its Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners on the route. The plane would have 290 seats, 28 of which are Business studios and 262 Economy smart seats, and will come with Etihad’s e-box entertainment system and inflight wi-fi.

Table: Etihad Airways

Abu Dhabi added Israel to its ‘green list’ on Monday, allowing Israeli travelers to enjoy their trip to the UAE without going into mandatory quarantine.

“There is significant travel demand anticipated between Israel and the UAE and beyond, for both business and leisure travel purposes,” EY stated in a press release. “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.”

Featured image: Etihad A6-BLB Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner. Misael Ocasio Hernandez/Airways