Former El Al chief executive Gonen Usishkin is heading a new Israeli start-up airline, which aims to operate turboprop services from the northern coastal resort of Haifa.

Air Haifa is expecting civil aviation regulators to complete the carrier’s licence process around September this year.

The airline says it plans to operate ATR 72-600 aircraft initially to Eilat and Cyprus.

“We believe it should be simple to fly abroad, and we are working to make this a daily reality,” it states, adding that passengers will be able to avoid long waits at the airport.

Air Haifa claims it will be the first new Israeli airline to emerge since the 1990s, and the first to use Haifa as a base.

“We are committed…to the economic growth and development of Haifa and the northern districts,” it adds.

Air Haifa ATR 72-c-Air Haifa

Source: Air Haifa

Air Haifa will operate ATR 72-600 turboprops

Usishkin was named as the head of flag-carrier El Al in 2018 but stepped down in early 2021 after the airline underwent a change of controlling shareholder.

He has co-founded Air Haifa with Michael Strassburger and Lior Yavor, both former El Al senior executives.

Strassburger served as El Al’s chief commercial officer, and was also previously chief executive of leisure carrier Sun D’Or, while Yavor was chief pilot and head of operations.

Air Haifa’s livery features a pine cone which, it says, symbolises the Carmel forest in the north of Israel and represents its aim to create a “green and sustainable future” for aviation.