Etihad, Israel’s EI AI sign MoU to explore greater cooperation

By Rahul Vaimal, Associate Editor
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Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Israel’s national carrier El Al to implement codeshare services and to further deepen cooperation by increasing transport ties between the two countries.

The deal will enable both airlines to extend their global flight networks beyond the hubs of the two airlines while operating codeshare services between Abu Dhabi and Tel Aviv.

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Tony Douglas
Etihad Aviation Group.

“Following El Al’s historic flight to Abu Dhabi, the first-ever flight between Israel and the UAE, this MoU is the foundation of what we envision will be a strong ongoing relationship between Abu Dhabi and Tel Aviv. We look forward to examining ways in which the two flag carriers can work more closely together to improve business operations and enhance the experience for our guests.”

The MoU also includes provisions allowing the two airlines to pursue greater collaboration in the areas of cargo, engineering, loyalty, destination management and the effective use of training facilities for pilots and cabin crew.

Recently, Dubai Airport said that three Israeli airlines El Al, Israir and Arkia will begin direct flights between Tel Aviv and Dubai next month.

The UAE and Israel have recently signed an agreement on air transport to allow airlines to launch commercial flights between countries.

Gonen Usishkin, CEO of El Al Israel Airlines said, “Following the normalization of diplomatic relations between Israel and the UAE, we have been provided a great opportunity to examine the possibility of cooperation with Etihad Airways. This MoU is only the start and we believe that together, the two flag carriers will be able to provide our mutual customers with the best possible product and service.”

In addition to codeshare activities, teams from the Etihad Guest and El Al Matmeid Loyalty Programs will explore mutual opportunities and other benefits for its members. The destination leadership teams of the airlines will also work to facilitate mutual inbound tourism to Abu Dhabi and Tel Aviv.

Emiratis will also be able to fly to Israel for up to 90 days without a visa under a reciprocal visa-free travel arrangement between the two countries.

As part of the contract, the engineering and cargo divisions of both carriers will aim to enhance cooperation by leveraging opportunities for servicing, repair and overhaul. They will also explore ways to raise freighter traffic volumes between Abu Dhabi and Tel Aviv and across the carriers’ combined networks.

Growing aviation links between the UAE and Israel follow the signing of the Abraham Accord in September, which marked the normalization of relations between the two countries.

Etihad Airways said that regular services between Abu Dhabi and Tel Aviv will commence from March 28, 2021. Etihad became the first Gulf carrier to fly a commercial passenger flight to Israel from Abu Dhabi on October 19.

The Israeli Ministry of Transport has announced a framework for 28 direct flights a week between the countries in several agreements signed with the UAE.