Airlines prepare for arrival of open skies agreement

The postponed air agreement between Israel and the EU will again be put on the table after the new Israeli government is formed.

In the meantime, Israeli airlines, especially the smaller ones, are taking steps to be better ready for the open skies reality that the agreement will create.

One example is Israir. This small airline will receive its third Airbus A320 in the first quarter of 2014. In the meantime, the airline has implemented an operational mode that allows it to perform quick turnarounds in all the European destinations it serves.

Israir currently operates two A320s and two ATR-72s. The airline flies to 15 European destinations and, domestically, from Tel Aviv to Eilat, the resort on the Red Sea.

With load factors of almost 90 %, Israir had to use its small fleet intensively. By implementing a quick turnaround operational mode, the A320 can perform more flights every day.

A company source said that at Rome airport, the turnaround time went down from 90 minutes to “less than an hour”.

In Eilat, the ATR-72s take off 18 minutes after offloading passengers.

The airline expects the open skies agreement between Europe and Israel to increase tourist traffic to Israel, which will affect its European and domestic traffic.

Final approval of the agreement was postponed by the Israeli Ministry of Transport because of the recent elections in Israel.

The agreement will allow all EU airlines to operate direct flights to Israel from anywhere in the EU and Israeli carriers will be able to operate flights to airports throughout the EU. 

The EU-Israel air transport market will be opened gradually, so that by the start of the summer of 2017, the market will be fully open, with no restrictions on the number of weekly flights between Israel and the EU.

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