Israel Resumes Flights to Turkey after 16 Years

Israel Resumes Flights to Turkey after 16 Years

DALLAS — On Thursday morning, February 16, an Israir (6H) Airbus A320-232 carrying 165 passengers took off from Ben Gurion International Airport (TLV) in Israel, bound for Istanbul, Turkey.

This was the first time in 16 years that an Israeli airline had flown the route between the two countries, which had been suspended due to strained diplomatic relations.

At a ceremony prior to the flight, Israeli Transportation Minister Miri Regev expressed condolences for the devastating earthquakes that had recently hit Turkey and praised the Abraham Accords for opening up new opportunities for travel.

The Abraham Accords are a series of peace agreements between Israel and several Arab countries, the UAE being the first. The U.S. helped broker the agreements, which opened up diplomatic and economic relations between the countries, as well as channels of communication.

The Turkish Ambassador to Israel, Sakir Ozkan Torunlar, thanked the Israeli government for their search-and-rescue expedition sent to Turkey in the wake of the earthquakes.

Israir is the only Israeli airline offering flights to Istanbul, but other airlines such as Arkia (IZ) and El Al (LY) are set to follow suit, flying to popular destinations like Antalya.

The re-establishment of the route was made possible after an agreement was reached between the two countries last July regarding security arrangements. Thursday’s 6H flight to Istambul carried medical supplies.

Overflying Ben Gurion International Airport. Photo: Chris Hoare – Overflying Ben Gurion Airport, CC BY 2.0

Stability, Prosperity, Hope

“Renewing these flights has been made possible thanks to the Abraham Accords led by Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu, as now many destinations like Dubai and Morocco have opened up to us,” the Israeli Transport Minister said.

She added, “We’re receiving requests from transportation ministers from various African and Middle Eastern countries to open direct flights with us.”

“Turkish and Israeli citizens have known each other for many years. Both countries will continue to operate, and we’re happy to see commercial flights resuming their operations,” added the Turkish Ambassador.

Israir is an Israeli airline headquartered in Tel Aviv. It operates domestic scheduled and air taxi flights from TLV, Ramon Airport (EMT), and Haifa Airport (HFA) as well as international charter services from TLV to Europe and Asia.

It is Israel’s second-largest airline after El Al, surpassing Arkia Israel Airlines during the Coronavirus pandemic.

Featured image: Oyoyoy – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0

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