September 30, 2022
First Palestinians to Fly from Israel Arrive in Cyprus
Airlines Special Flights

First Palestinians to Fly from Israel Arrive in Cyprus

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DALLAS – On August 22, 2022, a group of West Bank-based Palestinians took an Arkia Israeli Airlines (IZ) flight from Israel’s Eilat-Ramon Airport (ETM) to Larnaca International Airport (LCA), Cyprus, for the first time ever.

The historic flight, which transported the Palestinian citizens from Bethlehem, Jericho, Ramallah, and Nablus in the occupied West Bank, was a part of an ETM pilot program that enables Palestinians living in the West Bank to travel abroad.

Arkia CEO Oz Berlovich told the Hebrew-language Ynet news outlet that the group included mostly physicians, pharmacists, and their spouses, who flew to Larnaca for a medical conference and holidays.

“Palestinians were aboard an international flight from Ramon Airport to Larnaca for the first time,” the office of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), Israel’s military liaison to the Palestinians, confirmed in a statement.

The COGAT added that staff work was “still underway” to allow more flights by Palestinians via ETM. The 2019-opened airport is around 230 kilometers south of Jerusalem, close to the Israeli vacation city of Eilat.

Eilat-Ramon Airport. Photo: Roman Toldy, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International

A Challenge to Travel abroad


The largest and busiest airport in Israel, Ben Gurion Airport (TLV), is not accessible to Palestinians who reside in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip without an airport permit.

For Palestinians from the West Bank/Gaza Strip region, traveling abroad is a challenging process because these permits are approved only just before takeoff. The only outbound route for Palestinians in the West Bank has been via Jordan.

West Bank Palestinians who want to fly abroad must first travel to Amman via a congested Israeli border crossing. According to The Associated Press, travelers must spend the night in a hotel before their flight because the crossing isn’t open 24 hours a day.

Aerotime.aero reports that there are plans for Turkish carriers Pegasus Airlines (PC) and Atlas Global (KK) to operate twice-weekly flights for Palestinians to fly from ETM to Amman Queen Alia Airport (AMM) in Turkey, starting at the end of this month.

Additionally, flights to Istanbul are to commence in September 2022.


Featured image: Arkia Airbus A321LR. Photo: Oyoyoy, Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0

Chief Online Editor
Chief Online Editor at Airways Magazine, AVSEC interpreter and visual artist; grammar geek, an avid fan of aviation, motorcycles, sci-fi literature, and film.

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