Photo Credit: Richard Vandervord / Wikimedia / CC BY-SA 4.0
An Etihad A380 shortly after take-off from London's Heathrow Airport

The national carrier of the United Arab Emirates, Etihad Airways, is beginning to compete with Israel’s national carrier on routes to the Far East, offering flights to Israelis from its home airport in Abu Dhabi.

Etihad will be offering flights from Abu Dhabi to destinations in Asia, Australia, the Middle East and elsewhere, but not yet from Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv – the home airport of EL AL Airlines.

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However, Jews in Israel will be able to buy tickets on Etihad Airlines within the Jewish State from TAL Aviation, its local representative.

“In recent weeks we have seen a rise in demand in Israel and a return of the desire to travel,” TAL Aviation Vice President of Commercial Ventures Nissim Saqis said in a statement, according to the Globes business news site.

“We are excited about cooperating with our new partners, Etihad, and to offer Israeli travelers Etihad’s renowned service experience to Abu Dhabi and other destinations on its international flight network.”

Etihad Airlines has a fleet of approximately 100 aircraft and flies to 84 destinations in 55 countries; in 2019, the airline had 17.5 million passengers.

“The entry of airlines from the UAE into Israel represents a great danger to Israeli aviation, and particularly to El Al,” a senior aviation industry source told Globes.

“Even before the crisis and before the change that will arise from the signing of the agreement with the UAE, the Israeli airlines lost money when the Open Skies policy came into full effect.

“The hubs they have at their airports link every continent. It’s an excellent location for flights to Australia, to the Far East and to Africa, which means that El Al and airlines like Turkish Airlines which fly to these destinations should be worried, not just about the excellent product of the airlines from the UAE, but also about the fares they offer.”

JNS contributed to this report.

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.