Israel’s Aviation Rebound: Passenger Traffic Surges as Airlines Gradually Return

by | Apr 1, 2024 | Economy | 0 comments

With travel slowly returning to pre-war levels, airlines are cautiously resuming flights to Israel. British Airways is set to recommence its Tel Aviv-London route this week, marking a significant step in the country’s aviation recovery. The anticipated surge in traffic is projected to be the busiest since the commencement of the war with Hamas, with approximately 60,000 passengers expected daily during the upcoming Passover holiday.

Joining British Airways are several other carriers, including Air Canada, Spanish Iberia, Dutch KLM, and Bulgaria Air. However, some airlines remain hesitant to return. Ryanair, a popular low-cost carrier in Israel, has cancelled all flights to the country until the end of October. Similarly, British Virgin Atlantic is delaying its resumption until at least May 5.

Turkish Airlines and American Airlines have also postponed their return, citing ongoing uncertainties. Despite the perceived profitability of routes to Israel, factors such as crew safety concerns and economic and political considerations influence airlines’ decisions.

Yossi Fatal, CEO of the Inbound Tourism Bureau, highlighted crew apprehensions as a significant factor. He noted that some airlines, like British Airways, opt to change crews in Cyprus due to security concerns, resulting in longer flight times. Additionally, challenges with insurance coverage and leasing companies’ increased premiums for non-owned aircraft pose further hurdles.

Yossi Fisher, a tourism and aviation expert, suggested that altering Israel’s official status from a state of war could encourage airlines to return. He explained that current perceptions deter some carriers due to insurance and operational complexities.

Recent headlines saw Ryanair backtrack on its return to Israel, attributing the decision partly to operational logistics and terminal preferences. Yehuda Zafarani, director of tourism at the Hot Consumer Club, emphasized the difficulty in reversing decisions once planes have been diverted to alternative routes.

Despite these challenges, industry experts advocate for government intervention to incentivize airline returns. Some experts even suggest establishing a safety net to reassure carriers of Israel’s security, fostering confidence in resuming operations.

Image credit: BA aircrafts, Jason Alden/Bloomberg


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