Emirates Airline Delays Tel Aviv Route Launch as Israel Closes Borders

In a statement on Sunday, Emirates Airline announced that the launch of the much-vaunted travel route between Dubai and Tel Aviv would now be delayed because of the new COVID-19 travel restrictions. A spokesperson for Emirates Airline said that the recent changes that have been made by the Israeli government over the entry protocols has led to the postponement of the launch. They added that the airline was committed to launching the new travel route to Tel Aviv, whenever the situation allows. The co-flagship carrier of the United Arab Emirates had been scheduled for inaugurating the route between Tel Aviv and Dubai on December 6th

By doing so, it would have joined two other Emirati airlines that are already offering the route between the two countries, which are Flydubai and flagship Etihad. On Saturday night, the ministers in Israel voted to close the country’s borders and ban non-citizens from coming into Israel for the next two weeks because of the fears associated with the newly discovered Omicron variant of the coronavirus. Israel had reopened its borders for tourists on November 1st for the first time since the pandemic had begun wreaking havoc globally. 

One of the largest airlines in the world, Emirates is also one of the flagship-carrying airlines in the UAE. It had announced last month that the launch of the new travel route would ‘seamlessly’ link Israel with its global route network that spreads across 120 destinations. The flights had been scheduled to leave Dubai daily at 14:50 local time and reach at 16:25 local time at the Ben Gurion Airport with the tag of EK931. As for return flights, they were supposed to have the tag of EK932 and were scheduled to leave Tel Aviv at 18:25 and reach at 23:35 local time in Dubai. 

The purpose of the services was to enable inbound connections on Emirates flights to Tel Aviv from almost 30 destinations. These would include names like Brazil, the United States, South Africa, India, Mexico, and Australia. According to the statement, all of these countries have large Jewish communities, which would make it a prominent advantage. After the agreement between Israel and the UAE last year, the first commercial flights between Dubai and Tel Aviv had been launched by low-cost carrier Flydubai within a couple of months. Regular flights are now available by Israeli carriers named Arkia and Etihad, the Abu Dhabi-based airline.

The former US President Donald Trump had brokered the deal for the normalization of the relations between Israel and the UAE. The signing of the deal broke decades of consensus that relations with Israel depended on resolving the Palestinian conflict. In September 2020, the two countries signed the Abraham records, which included Sudan, Morocco and Bahrain. Since then, the two countries have opened reciprocal embassies. As a matter of fact, the ties between the two countries are expected to go beyond the atmosphere, as they have agreed to collaborate on several space projects, which include the launch of a mission to the moon named ‘Beresheet 2’. 

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