FILE- In this Dec. 18, 2014, file photo, an Emirati man takes a selfie in front of a new Etihad Airways A380 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, announced Monday, Nov. 16, 2020 it would start operating daily nonstop flights to Tel Aviv next spring, a move that deepens ties between the UAE and Israel after the two countries agreed to normalize relations. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili, File)

UAE national carrier to start flying to Tel Aviv next spring

UAE national carrier to start flying to Tel Aviv next spring

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, announced Monday it would start operating daily nonstop flights to Tel Aviv next spring, a move that deepens ties between the UAE and Israel after the two countries agreed to normalize relations.

Direct flights on Etihad between the emirates’ capital of Abu Dhabi and Tel Aviv will begin March 28, giving “Emiratis and UAE residents the opportunity to discover Israel’s historical sites, beaches, restaurants and nightlife,” the state-owned carrier said in a statement. Tickets are already available on Etihad’s website.

The announcement comes after Dubai’s budget carrier flydubai said it would begin offering direct flights between Dubai and Tel Aviv later this month.

The UAE and Israel signed a U.S.-brokered accord establishing formal diplomatic ties on the White House lawn in September. The deal marked a diplomatic achievement for President Donald Trump ahead of his reelection campaign and reflects a changing Middle East, in which shared enmity of Iran has largely overtaken traditional Arab support for the Palestinians.

Soon after the UAE, Bahrain and Sudan agreed to formalize ties with Israel in similar agreements.

Bahrain’s foreign minister will lead the country’s first official trip to Israel on Wednesday, state-run Bahrain News Agency reported. The high-level diplomatic visit seeks “to affirm Bahrain’s firm and permanent stance toward supporting the Mideast peace process” and “to shed light on shared economic opportunities,” the agency said.

The U.S. State Department said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, on a Mideast tour, would be in Israel during the coming days as well.

The normalization deal, rejected by Palestinians as a betrayal of their cause, has been welcomed among Israelis eager to visit the UAE’s skyscraper-studded cities and make public their long-secret commercial ties with the federation of seven sheikhdoms. In recent weeks, a series of Israeli delegations, including entrepreneurs, tourists and even Israeli settlers from the occupied West Bank, has flown to Dubai for meetings with Emirati businesspeople and officials.

The air route became commercially viable after Saudi Arabia decided to allow Israeli jets to traverse its skies, cutting the flight time between the countries to some three hours.

Mohammad al-Bulooki, chief operating officer of Etihad Aviation Group, praised the start of scheduled flights as a “historic moment” that opens up opportunities for “trade and tourism not just between the two countries but also within the region and beyond.”

Etihad said the start of regular service with Israel would turn Abu Dhabi into a crucial travel hub for Israelis travelling to China, India and Australia.

Isabel Debre, The Associated Press

Air Travel

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A nurse gets a swab ready at a temporary COVID-19 test clinic in Montreal, on Friday, May 15, 2020. Health Canada has reversed course on home test kits for COVID-19, saying it will now review applications for such devices. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Alberta declines Ontario’s request to send health-care workers

Alberta is “not in a position” to send health-care workers out of… Continue reading

The Red Deer Rebels allowed four straight goals from the Medicine Hat Tigers Friday night on the road. (Photo by Rob Wallator/ Red Deer Rebels)
Tigers hand Red Deer Rebels 10th straight loss

Tigers 4 Rebels 2 Through 17 games in the shortened WHL season,… Continue reading

Meghan Huizing has been selected by Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools as a finalist for the Alberta School Boards Association (ASBA) 2021 Edwin Parr Award. (Photo courtesy of Red Deer Regional Catholic Schools)
Red Deer Catholic names finalist for Edwin Parr Award

Meghan Huizing from St. Gregory the Great Catholic School in Blackfalds has… Continue reading

GrammaLink-Africa members are participating in the Stride to Turn the Tide campaign until June 30. (Contributed photo)
Red Deer group walking to raise money for African grandmothers

A group of central Albertans will be walking every day until the… Continue reading

Red Deer Public Schools will not pilot the new draft curriculum at its elementary schools. (File photo contributed by Red Deer Public Schools)
UPDATED: Red Deer Public Schools says no to piloting new curriculum

Alberta Teachers’ Association support school boards

Montreal Canadiens' Tyler Toffoli celebrates his goal past Calgary Flames goaltender Jacob Markstrom during second-period NHL hockey action in Montreal on Friday, April 16, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Toffoli scores twice, Canadiens put some distance on Flames with 2-1 win

Toffoli scores twice, Canadiens put some distance on Flames with 2-1 win

Canadian prop Jake Ilnicki savouring life in Seattle, looks forward to facing Arrows

Canadian prop Jake Ilnicki savouring life in Seattle, looks forward to facing Arrows

Corey Conners, of Canada, hits out of a bunker on the seventh hole during the final round of the Masters golf tournament in Augusta, Ga., Sunday, April 11, 2021. Conners notched six birdies on his back nine to take the lead after his second round of the RBC Heritage on Friday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Matt Slocum
Canadian Corey Conners surges into lead at PGA Tour’s RBC Heritage

Canadian Corey Conners surges into lead at PGA Tour’s RBC Heritage

Patrick Marleau poised to break Gordie Howe’s games record

Patrick Marleau poised to break Gordie Howe’s games record

Leylah Annie Fernandez of Canada serves to Marie Bouzkova of the Czech Republic in round 1 of the Rogers Cup women's tennis tournament in Toronto, Monday August 5, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mark Blinch
Rebecca Marino propels Canada into 2-0 lead over Serbia at Billie Jean King Cup

Rebecca Marino propels Canada into 2-0 lead over Serbia at Billie Jean King Cup

Dalton Kellett pulls out of the pits during a practice session for the Indianapolis 500 auto race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, in Indianapolis, Thursday, Aug. 13, 2020. Dalton Kellett is pleased his second career season in IndyCar will be different than his first, which started on an elaborate iRacing rig in his home office in Indianapolis because of COVID-19 restrictions. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Darron Cummings
Canada’s Dalton Kellett set for a more stable season as an IndyCar driver

Canada’s Dalton Kellett set for a more stable season as an IndyCar driver

Canada head coach Bev Priestman reacts during the women's international friendly soccer match between England and Canada at Bet365 stadium in Stoke on Trent, England, Tuesday, April 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Rui Vieira
Canadian women get peek at their possible road at Olympic soccer tournament

Canadian women get peek at their possible road at Olympic soccer tournament

Head coach John Tait talks to his team as Canada takes on Japan in women's sevens rugby action at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on Saturday, Aug. 6, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Rugby Canada says probe into complaint from members of women’s 7s team is complete

Rugby Canada says probe into complaint from members of women’s 7s team is complete

Most Read