The Israeli civil aviation authority has recommended that the country's private airlines be allowed to operate 13 regional routes from Tel Aviv.

The approval follows a decision by the Israeli Government in August 1997 to open up the local aviation market.

The recommendations, which still require final approval by the Israeli Government following the general elections on 17 May, give airlines the right to operate regional flights to destinations not served by national carrier El Al. The destination list includes Larnaca and Paphos in Cyprus, as well as Sofia, Belgrade, Tiblisi and destinations in Turkey.

El Al said that the recommendations will further diminish its value at a time when preparations for privatisation are gathering impetus.

Source: Flight International